The Sicilian Agrometeorological Information Service (SIAS) reported that temperatures in Syracuse, south of Sicily, reached 48.8 degrees on Wednesday. Meteorologist Manuel Mazzolini told weather portal 3Bmeteo that if it is officially confirmed, it could break the European temperature record – 48 degrees – which was measured in 1977 in the Greek capital, Athens.
Severe wildfires caused massive damage across the country as fire management reached its limit. Authorities said more than 300 forest fires were reported in the 12 hours on Tuesday.
Firefighting planes took off again on Wednesday to monitor the spread of flames and spray water on the burning areas. According to the fire department, fires broke out in new places in Madoni Regional Natural Park in a protected natural area in Sicily.
Because of the assessment of the situation, Minister of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli, who visited the island, called for better coordination, noting that there is no shortage of personnel, but perhaps a lack of resources and strategy. “Maybe the regional plans weren’t up to date either,” he said.
Devastating wildfires in mainland Italy, south of Calabria, have hit hard. Firefighters have already been called thousands of times this year due to fires in the area, much more times than last year, but not as many times as in 2017, which was a particularly tough year for bushfires.
In Calabria, the fires mainly affected the Aspromonte National Park, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared a global geopark this year. The Italian news agency ANSA reported on Wednesday that fires have already blocked the way to the church, a popular destination for pilgrims this time of year, forcing many to turn back. On Tuesday, the park’s director again issued a public call for more help in curbing the flames and warned of the risk of disaster.
On Wednesday, authorities expected the current heat wave to continue in many parts of Italy, with temperatures in Sicily likely to exceed 40 degrees Celsius. The situation was exacerbated by strong winds and drought. Arson is suspected in several wildfires.
Cover image source: NurPhoto / Getty Images.
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