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20,000 die in heat wave

About 20,000 people died as Europe sweltered under an unbearable heat wave in July and August.

In France, the largest undertaker group in France claimed that about 10,000 people had died. A weather station in Paris reported on August 11 it had recorded an overnight temperature of 25.5 degrees Celsius, the highest nighttime low since 1873.

Though precise figures were unavailable, reports in the local media put the toll in Spain at 2,000, Portugal 1,316, over 950 in the UK, at least 1,000 in Italy, and between 500 and 1,000 in the Netherlands, while Germany blamed the scorching weather for 40 deaths.

The problem in France was compounded by the holiday season. There were reports of bodies lying unattended at morgues for days on end. The elderly and the very young were the most susceptible to the heat since their bodies are unable to cope with the extreme temperatures.

Text: Ramananda Sengupta

10,000 might have died: French minister

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