France’s scorching summer heatwave claimed 1,500 lives

The heatwave that baked France this summer provoked 1,500 more fatalities than an average year.

France's scorching summer heatwave claimed 1,500 lives
Photo: AFP

France baked under scorching temperatures throughout most of late June, July and August and the heat took its toll.

The country's health minister Agnes Buzyn announced on Friday that the heatwave, known as a “canicule” in French, claimed 1,500 more lives than an average summer.

Most of the deaths were among the elderly population.

Summer 2018 was the second hottest in history in France with an average temperature 2C above average throughout the country. 

Buzyn warns that with global warming authorities must prepare for future heatwaves and take steps to prevent deaths linked to the high temperatures, especially in the larger towns where conditions are generally worse due to the phenomenon known as “urban heat islands”.

Hot summers in France generally lead to more deaths. In 2015 there were 3,000 fatalities linked to the heatwave that summer. And in 2000 the figure stood at 2,000.

But the deadliest summer remains 2003 when Europe baked under sweltering temperatures that caused the death of 70,000 people including 20,000 in France.

Most of those who died were old people who had no one to check on their condition.

That figure prompted the French government to act to prevent further deaths and since then heatwave plans have been launched each time the temperature rises.

The plans are designed to make sure the most vulnerable are monitored.

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South west France on red alert for flooding

Five areas in south west France have been placed on a red weather alert for flooding as storms lash the region.

South west France on red alert for flooding
Storms are moving in to south west France over the Pyrenees. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Météo France has placed five départements in south west France – Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haute-Garonne and Ariège – on a red weather alert for heavy rains and flooding.

Extremely heavy rainstorms have hit the area, with a band of storm clouds travelling along the Pyrenees, bringing the risk of avalanches in the mountains and flooding in lowland areas.

The neighbouring département of Pyrénées-Orientale is on orange alert, along with the principality of Andorra. In the north, Aisne is also on orange alert for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is expected to continue throughout Monday, gradually easing off towards the evening, although the flood alerts remain in place until Tuesday.