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Heatwave starts across Greece

Hospitals and ambulance services were on alert in Greece on Monday as temperatures soared and the country prepared for the hottest spell of the year.
/ Source: Reuters

Hospitals and ambulance services were on alert in Greece on Monday as temperatures soared and the country prepared for the hottest spell of the year.

Temperatures were expected to reach 108 degrees Fahrenheit, forcing cities to provide air-conditioned halls for the elderly and prompting tourists to cool off in fountains.

Forecasters expected the heatwave to last up to three days, with Monday the hottest day of the summer and the hottest August day for more than a decade.

Many Greeks extended their holidays by several days during what was expected to be the hottest week of the summer, leaving cities looking empty.

“I haven’t had a single customer in the shop all morning. No one dares to come out with this heat,” said newsagent Nikos Dimitrakis in the central district of Pangrati. “But at least I can park my car near my shop with everyone still away.”

Athens’ Syntagma square was deserted apart from a few tourists desperately seeking some shade as the mercury edged up to 106 F.

Hundreds of firefighters battled forest blazes across the country, many caused by the high temperatures.

A heatwave in 1987 caused hundreds of deaths in the Greek capital and authorities have since been taking measures to protect the most vulnerable -- children and the elderly.

Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas sought to calm fears of an energy blackout due to the high consumption saying new power units were able to cope with the extra demand.

Temperatures were expected to dip again late on Tuesday or early on Wednesday.