Between June and August 2022 France saw “excess deaths that were in all probability due in part to the heatwave”. That is the verdict of the country's official statistics agency INSEE. If one compares the 2022 mortality figures with the same period in 2019, an additional 11,124 people lost their lives this summer. These initial estimates of the impact of this year's heat inevitably revive memories of the tragic heatwave of 2003, which led to the deaths of many thousands of people. Donatien Huet and Jade Lindgaard report.
A detailed “social autopsy” by sociologist Eric Klinenberg examined the heatwave that killed more than 700 people in the American city during one week in July 1995. According to the American academic it was the existence of strong social ties and urban vibrancy that helped stop more people from dying, and not free phone helplines such as the French authorities are issuing to help people in the heatwave currently suffocating France and other parts of Europe. Mediapart's environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports on the lessons for the rest of the world from Chicago's devastating heatwave 27 years ago.
Multiple fires have already broken out with two major conflagrations in the Gironde department in the south-west and temperatures in the north are expected to match those of the south of France with peaks of 40 degrees across the country.
National forecasting centre Météo France, which warned of a May heatwave back in March, said temperatures of between 30°C and 35°C were unusual in terms of their “earliness, durability and geographical extent".
Several homes were destroyed and others evacuated during a forest fire near Anglet on the Atlantic coast in southwest France that burned through about 165 hectares made up mostly of pine trees overnight Thursday, as the country swelters under a heatwave reaching 40°C in Paris on the eve of the traditional August holiday exodus.
A temperature of 42.6°C was registered in Paris on Thursday, beating a previous record high of 40.4°C in 1947, as most of France bore the brunt of a massive heatwave blanketing western Europe this week and which is due to begin diminishing on Friday.
With temperatures of more than 40°C, the towns of Bordeaux, Rennes and Châteauroux on Wednesday recorded their hottest day since records began, as France swelters under a vast heatwave driven from the south, while the temperature in Paris on Thursday is forecast to beat the capital's 1947 all-time high of 40.4°C.
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