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No end in sight for searing heatwave

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Cyprus is sweltering under a sustained heatwave, which could last more than ten days, with maximum temperatures expected to soar to 44 degrees Celsius next week, several notches above the norm.

The island has wilted under an unusually hot and prolonged heatwave, with no sign of temperatures dropping before the end of next week.

The Met Office issued another yellow alert Friday due to extremely high temperatures while warning the thermometer will rise further over the weekend, to climax on 2 August.

Since 27 July, temperatures have remained well above the average 37°C for the season.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, weather observer Eric Kitas said temperatures are expected to come dangerously close to 45°C next week as a hot air mass originating from Africa heating the region.

“The anti-cyclone formed in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean will be keeping temperatures high, with minimum temperatures forcing the Met Office to issue night-time warning,” said Kitas.

“This anti-cyclone is pushing temperatures up in the eastern part of the sea, the Balkans, and Turkey. As a result, Greece and Turkey could be in for their hottest days on record.”

A heatwave scorched southeast Europe on Thursday, intensifying wildfires and sending residents flocking to the coast, public fountains, and air-conditioned locations to find some relief.

Temperatures rose above 40°C in parts of Greece and across much of the region.

Weather experts in Athens said they expected the heatwave to extend into next week, making it one of the most severe recorded in the country since the mid-1980s.

At least three people were killed in southern Turkey, and dozens of people were hospitalized as the intense summer heat, and strong winds fanned two separate forest fires.

Wildfires in Greece threatened homes for a third successive day, with a blaze reported Thursday outside the western city of Patras.

Kitas said that wildfires in Turkey are not helping temperatures in Cyprus drop, as winds are currently blowing from the north, bringing along smoke and more heat from burning forests.

Meanwhile, the Forestry Department said the risk of forest fires remains on red alert while calling on the public to be extra vigilant.

It called on the public to refrain from any activities that may cause forest fires now that temperatures are extremely high.

Lighting fires without permission is an offence punishable with up to 10 years in jail or a €50,000 fine, or both.

Anyone who detects smoke or fire should call 1407 or the Cyprus Fire Service on 112.

Cyprus lived through the worst fire in its recent history on 3 July, when a blaze starting in Arakapas, Limassol, claimed the lives of four Egyptian workers, burning 55 sq. km of forest and wild vegetation, destroying some 80 houses in its wake.

Police believe it was started by a 67-year-old farmer illegally burning vegetation.

On 4 September 2020 was the hottest day ever recorded on the island, with a scorching 46.2°C in Nicosia.

The warmest day in July was also recorded last year, with a peak temperature of 44.6° C.

Scientists blame climate change for the extreme weather, now becoming a routine occurrence.