July 25, 2006

French heatwave kills 40

PARIS (Reuters) - Around 40 people in France, mostly
elderly, have died in a heatwave over the past week and the
Netherlands is poised to record its hottest July since records

Meteo France, the national weather agency, has put its
heatwave alert at orange, the second highest level, in 53 of
the 96 metropolitan departments, or administrative districts.

A top French health advisory body (INVS) said it would
publish on Thursday a detailed toll from the heatwave which has
so far proved less deadly than the 2003 hot spell which killed
some 15,000 people.

Labor Minister Gerard Larcher met construction industry
representatives on Tuesday to discuss safety issues linked to
the prolonged spell of high temperatures, notably adapting
working hours to avoid the worst heat of the day.

Further north, the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said
July was on track to be the hottest month in the Netherlands
since temperatures were first measured in 1706.

Average daily temperatures in the first 24 days of the
month were 22.3 degrees Celsius (72.1 Fahrenheit) compared with
the previous record of 21.4 degrees in July 1994 and normal
average temperatures of 17.4, the KNMI said.

Dutch temperature records, launched at the beginning of the
18th century, are among the oldest in the world. Methodical
thermometer-based records began on a more global basis around

Dutch meteorologists say they cannot make a direct link
between global warming and the heatwave in Europe although the
KNMI has forecast a clear warming trend over the next 50 years
and increasingly frequent heatwaves.

Temperatures in the Netherlands rose as high as 36 to 37
degrees last week, when two people died during a walking event.

(Additional reporting by Anna Mudeva in Amsterdam)