Lisbon breaks record for maximum temperature reaching 44 C (111.2 F)

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Europe sweltered yesterday in intense heat with temperatures due to hit near-record highs of 46 deg C in Portugal, while elsewhere high temperatures melted the asphalt or saw police dogs fitted with shoes.

The heatwave has brought drought and wildfires to Europe from Greece, where 91 people died in a fire in July, to Sweden.

The highest temperature recorded Thursday, when the heat began to rise, was 45.2 C (113.4 F) near Abrantes, a town 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the capital, Lisbon, the country's weather agency IPMA said.

More than 400 firefighters battled a forest blaze near the Monchique mountain range in the Algarve, with crews forced to evacuate a nearby village and use planes and helicopters to bring the flames under control. Authorities deployed 130 soldiers to help with the efforts.

Francisca Serrano, a souvenir seller, added "we are used to high temperatures, but it seems the air doesn't flow and that makes it hard to breathe".

According to the UK Met Office, the recent hot temperatures in Scandinavia have led to sea surface temperatures in the Baltic Sea rising well above 20 Celsius, as much as 5 or 6 degrees above average. TV footage showed burned out cars and charred buildings the villagers had left behind.

Tourists cool off at a fountain during the heatwave at the Virgin Square in Valencia, Spain, August 3, 2018. That blaze has since been put out.

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More fires have been reported in the Estremadura region close to the Portuguese border and in Catalonia near the French border. The nuclear power plants were near the Rhine and Rhone rivers, temperatures are expected to reach 37C in France's Rhone Valley.

Hot air from North Africa has caused the most severe heatwave in Iberia since 2003, one of the worst years on record for forest fires.

While the temperature was down to a near-seasonal 25 C in the Netherlands on Sunday, the country's drought continues to wreak havoc on crops. Wheat fields have been devastated across northern Europe, driving up prices.

The company halted a reactor at Fessenheim - the country's oldest nuclear power plant - in eastern France, in order to keep the plant from overheating the nearby river.

The fire was stabilized as of Sunday morning but not yet controlled, Spanish emergency services said on Twitter. Dozens of people were killed in two major forest fires previous year.

An influx of hot air and dust coming in from the Sahara Desert has prompted warning alerts in countries such as Portugal and Spain.

Some places in Sweden have had their driest May-to-July period on record, according to its meteorological agency, and a number of weather stations have recorded only 10% to 15% of their normal rainfall.

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