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Heatwave caused higher than normal death rate in southern Italy

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Heatwave caused higher than normal death rate in southern Italy

ROME (Reuters) – The central and southern regions of Italy recorded 7% more deaths than normal in July after a baking heatwave, health ministry data showed, while firefighters on Monday battled fires on Sardinia and hailstones and floods battered the northeast.

Italy has been at the forefront of extreme weather events since a heat wave hit southern Europe last month, with scorching temperatures leading to increased risk of fires and deaths.

In its latest monthly data, Italy’s ministry of health noted the effects of extreme temperatures on the country’s mortality rate in July compared to the average rate recorded in the same period from 2015 to 2019.

It noted that record temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius have caused more fatalities than expected in the population aged 75 and over.

The increased mortality rate was particularly evident in southern cities such as Bari, Catania, and Reggio Calabria.

On the contrary, the mortality rate in cities in the north of the country, which was less exposed to the heatwave, was lower than expected, down 14% on the past trend.

The heat has abated, but on Sunday firefighters evacuated more than 600 people along the east coast of the island of Sardinia.

After 60 interventions the previous night, the work to extinguish the flames continued in the provinces of Nuoro and Cagliari, firefighters said on Monday.

In the northeastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, images showed streets blanketed with hailstones after a violent storm on Sunday.

Firefighters helped people to safety after flooding left them stranded. The region borders Slovenia, which has also been hit by floods.

 

(Reporting by Federica Urso; Editing by Keith Weir and Sharon Singleton)