Italy heatwave and drought spark killer wildfires

August 3, 2017
Firefighters get to work in the Annunziata district of Messina as a fire rages on July 10, 2017

A heatwave that has left Italy sweltering in record temperatures sparked wildfires Thursday which claimed the life of one elderly woman and forced the closure of a major highway.

The 79-year-old woman was found dead in a field next to her home in Sant'Omero in the central region of Abruzzo, having apparently been overcome by flames that engulfed two hectares of surrounding farmland.

A section of the Via Aurelia coastal motorway that runs northwards from Rome to the Riviera had to be closed for several hours because of a major fire near Grosseto in Tuscany.

The region's celebrated landscape is usually baked to a rich golden colour by the end of the summer: this year it resembles burnt toast with August barely underway.

With peak temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in much of the country, a total of 26 major towns and cities were on the 's maximum heat alert.

Admissions to hospital emergency units have spiked 15 percent in recent days and forecasters see no respite coming before early next week.

High humidity in the north and hot winds from Africa in the south are making the perceived temperatures seem even hotter for Italians longing for the beach.

The heatwave has come on the back of a prolonged drought that is set to cost Italy's large agricultural sector billions with 11 regions facing critical water shortages.

Olive yields in parts of the country are forecast to be 50 percent lower than normal this autumn and the scarcity of water has cut sheep's milk production by 30 percent in others, with knock-on effects for the production of one of Italy's most popular cheeses, pecorino.

Explore further: Greece: Heatwave closes Acropolis, ancient sites

Related Stories

Greece: Heatwave closes Acropolis, ancient sites

July 12, 2017

Greek authorities closed the ancient Acropolis in Athens to visitors for several hours Wednesday along with other popular archaeological sites around the country due to a heatwave.

Spain heatwave breaks records and kills one

July 14, 2017

Spain baked in a record-breaking heatwave on Thursday which was blamed for the death of a road crew worker and is suspected of leaving another man in critical condition.

Climate change will feed wildfires: experts

July 27, 2017

Out-of-control wildfires like the ones that brought destruction to southern Europe, North America and parts of South Africa in recent weeks will likely become more frequent as global temperatures soar under climate change, ...

Japan heatwave kills 15, thousands hospitalised

July 23, 2014

Sweltering summer heat in Japan has left at least 15 people dead over the past week, while more than 8,000 others were rushed to hospital with heatstroke symptoms, official figures showed Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Light-based production of drug-discovery molecules

February 18, 2019

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells are widely studied for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. They use photocathodes and photoanodes to "split" water into hydrogen and oxygen respectively. PEC cells can work ...

Solid-state catalysis: Fluctuations clear the way

February 18, 2019

The use of efficient catalytic agents is what makes many technical procedures feasible in the first place. Indeed, synthesis of more than 80 percent of the products generated in the chemical industry requires the input of ...

Engineered metasurfaces reflect waves in unusual directions

February 18, 2019

In our daily lives, we can find many examples of manipulation of reflected waves, such as mirrors, or reflective surfaces for sound that improve auditorium acoustics. When a wave impinges on a reflective surface with a certain ...

Design principles for peroxidase-mimicking nanozymes

February 18, 2019

Nanozymes, enzyme-like catalytic nanomaterials, are considered to be the next generation of enzyme mimics because they not only overcome natural enzymes' intrinsic limitations, but also possess unique properties in comparison ...

Sound waves let quantum systems 'talk' to one another

February 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have invented an innovative way for different types of quantum technology to "talk" to each other using sound. The study, published Feb. 11 in Nature ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.