"A team of climate scientists - the World Weather Attribution group - said this month's intense heatwave in Southern Europe, North America and China would have been virtually impossible without human-induced climate change.", wrote Laurence Peter for the BBC. July 2023 will most certainly be the hottest month ever measured. On Monday 24 July, the Mediterranean Sea reached its highest daily temperature ever at 28.71°C, beating the previous record of 28.25°C set in 2003.
Fuelled by heat waves, fires are ravaging the Mediterranean basin, particularly in Sicily, although some fires have been extinguished or contained. More than 40 people have died in recent days, mainly in Algeria and Greece.
The BBC article adds: "On the island of Rhodes more than 20,000 people have been evacuated from homes and resorts in the south in recent days. An airport official told AFP news agency that more than 5000 had flown home on more than 40 emergency flights. Tourism accounts for one in five jobs in Greece, and the industry is vital for Rhodes and many other islands."
Italy has experienced one of the most complicated days in recent decades - rainstorms, tornadoes and giant hail in the north, and scorching heat and devastating fires in the centre and south. The environmental damage caused by the 338 fires that ravaged the Italian island has yet to be fully assessed, but almost 700 hectares of woodland went up in smoke. Parts of the city of Catania went without water and power after cables burned in temperatures that climbed to 47.6C.
"Fires have also raged in neighbouring Tunisia, where 300 people had to be evacuated from the coastal village of Melloula." according to the BBC article.
"The heaviest death toll so far is in Algeria, where the 34 victims included 10 soldiers surrounded by flames during an evacuation in the coastal province of Bejaia, east of Algiers. Bejaia, 250 km east of Alger, is the worst-hit area, accounting for 23 of the deaths, local media report."
Portugal did not escape the heatwave unscathed, with more than 600 firefighters deployed to try to put out a fire in a national park on the heights of Cascais, near the capital Lisbon. Local residents were evacuated from the small village of Zambujeiro - some by wheelchairs - but no injuries were reported.