Extreme weather conditions caused problems for millions of people over the weekend in large parts of Europe and Asia: Turkey and Japan were hit by violent floods, forests burned in Italy and Russia, and Spain recorded a heat record of more than 47 degrees Celsius.
Northern Turkey: In the floods in northern Turkey, the death toll rose to 58. Numerous people were still missing, said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Saturday evening in the city of Kastamonu. In the Turkish Black Sea region, heavy rains in the past few days have resulted in the worst flooding in years.
The water tore down houses, bridges collapsed. More than 2,000 people were brought to safety in Kastamonu, Sinop and Bartin provinces. According to experts, one factor behind the violence of the water masses is not only climate change but also the straightening of rivers – such as the narrowing of the Ezine River in the Bozkurt district.
Italy: In Italy so far this summer there have been around 75 percent more forest and vegetation fires than in the same period last year. From June 15 to August 15, there were a total of 52,584 fire brigade operations, as the fire brigade announced on Sunday. In the previous year there were 30,106 in the period. The current number is comparable to 2017. On Sunday, 7,600 men and women were on duty: 6,000 in regular service and 1,600 as reinforcement in view of the situation. They were supported by 15 fire-fighting planes and 14 helicopters.
Most recently there had been violent fires in the southern regions of Calabria, Campania and Molise, on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia and in the vicinity of Rome. Most of them go back to arson, according to media reports. The daily newspaper The Republic reported on Sunday that many centuries-old, culturally and historically significant forests were burning brightly. These include a pine forest near Pescara on the Adriatic Sea, which the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938), who was born there, once sang about. In Cuglieri in Sardinia, a thousand-year-old olive grove was destroyed by the flames. The Aspromonte National Park in Calabria is also badly damaged.
Greece: In Greece the situation relaxed: The fire brigade counted from Saturday to Sunday 53 new firesbut none of them got completely out of hand by Sunday noon. Some international aid workers left, while German firefighters and the technical relief organization remained in the west of the Peloponnese peninsula. Small fires have to be extinguished again and again in the region.
Spain: There was a temperature record in the municipality of Montoro in Andalusia in southern Spain. Here 47.2 degrees were measured on Saturday, like the weather service Aemet announced. This exceeded the previous national record of 46.9 degrees, which was measured in 2017 in the nearby provincial capital of Córdoba.
It was blazing hot in Zaragoza in the northeast of the country (43.2 degrees) and the capital Madrid (41 degrees). The holiday island of Mallorca, popular with Germans, reported over 40 degrees from some places in the interior of the island.
Russia: On the other side of the Mediterranean, the forest fires in Russia spread threateningly. The forest protection authority reported nationwide on Sunday almost 252 fires on a total area of 4.4 million hectares. That corresponds roughly to the area of Lower Saxony. More than 8,000 helpers were therefore in action in the fight against the flames. 14 fire-fighting aircraft provided support from the air. The worst was in the Republic of Yakutia in eastern Siberia. According to the forest protection authority, there was a fire there alone an area of 4.2 million hectares. On Sunday, 4,900 helpers tried to prevent the flames from spreading to at least nine villages.
The harmful smoke moved thousands of kilometers to the west and south. A local news site reported that the maximum permissible concentration of pollutants in the air had been exceeded in Yakutia. Measurements in the city of Yakutsk found a lot of carbon monoxide. People were asked to wear masks outside, which should be moistened beforehand.