European heat wave: UK breaks records

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Britain hit a new record for the highest temperature ever registered on Tuesday amid a sweltering European heat wave

According to the country’s weather office, the nation hit a provisional reading of 40.2 degrees Celsius (104.4 degrees Fahrenheit) at London Heathrow Airport.

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“For the first time ever, 40 Celsius has provisionally been exceeded in the UK. London Heathrow reported a temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius at 12:50 today,” the office tweeted. 

Forecasters cautioned that temperatures were still expected to rise. 

The record was also broken earlier in the day in Charlwood, England, with a provisional temperature of 102.4 F.

Until Tuesday, the previous record of 101.7 F was set in 2019. 

In addition, the U.K.’s Met Office also reported that provisional figures showed the temperature remained above 77 F overnight in parts of the country for the first time.

At least five people were reported to have drowned in the U.K. – attempting to cool off in rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

The conditions have impacted travel, health care and education, and much of England remained under the country’s first warning of “extreme” heat. 

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The runway at London’s Luton Airport was forced to close due to heat damage. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain’s infrastructure “just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature – and it will be many years before [the country] can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could.”

Outside the U.K., arid and hot weather has sparked wildfires and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. 

A wildfire in France – which is suspected to have been deliberate – and another accidental fire southwest of Bordeaux have spread over 70 square miles, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

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A July European Commission’s Joint Research Centre report published Monday found that 44% of the European Union and U.K. are exposed to warning drought levels, with 9% exposed to alert drought levels. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.