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Italy battles hundreds of wildfires, death toll rises to 5

italy-wildfires-heatwave-august-2021

More than 500 wildfires are burning across Italy on Thursday, August 13, 2021, prompting large-scale firefighting operations. Three more fatalities were confirmed on August 12 — two in Calabria and one in Sicily, bringing the death toll since last week to 5.

According to ANSA, blazes helped by heatwave (dubbed Lucifer) are 'devouring many hectares of forest in various parts of Italy on Thursday, with Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia and Campania hit especially hard.'1

The fire service confirmed on Thursday they had made 528 interventions, including 230 in Sicily alone, where authorities have declared a state of emergency and deployed voluntary firefighting teams from around Italy to help control the situation.2

The service said there has been a 70% increase in the number of interventions from June 15 to August 8, 2021, compared to the same period last year — 44 442 interventions compared with 26 158 during the same period in 2020.

The last time the number of interventions was so high was in 2017.

Heatwave currently affecting the Mediterranean region brought extremely high temperatures to much of the country, with Sicily reporting 48.8 C (119.8 F) at 11:14 UTC (13:14 LT) on August 11, 2021, potentially setting a new European record.3

The heat is expected to reach its peak on Saturday, August 14 when 17 cities are set to be on red alert — which means the heat is so intense it is a danger to the health of the general population and not just the elderly and the fragile.

The 17 cities are Ancona, Bari, Bologna, Bolzano, Brescia, Cagliari, Campobasso, Florence, Frosinone, Latina, Naples, Palermo, Perugia, Rieti, Rome, Trieste and Viterbo.1

References:

1 Italian firefighters battle hundreds of blazes nationwide – ANSA

2 Italy fights over 500 infernos across the country, as wildfires death toll rises to 4 – RT

3 Sicily registers 48.8 °C (119.8 °F), potentially setting new European record – The Watchers

Featured image credit: Vigili del Fuoco

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