Heat is well-known as a killer in diverse parts of the world, including Europe. It has struck France (1976), Greece (1987), Belgium (1994) and Wales and England (1995), causing the death of hundreds of people [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The summer heat wave of 2003 was exceptional for the extensive loss of life, which culminated in 14,800 deaths in France during the 9 days of extreme temperatures . Heavy casualties occurred in other European countries, namely Italy, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom, where the as yet unconfirmed figures for fatalities are between 1,000 and 5,000 people.
The death-toll observed in France has no equivalent in contemporary history. It represents more than 20 times the excess deaths reported during the 1995 Chicago heat wave, which is often cited for comparison . It even surpasses two-fold the death-toll observed in USA over the past 20 years . A similitude to the French figure can only be traced to previous centuries, namely the Beijing heat wave in...
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