Monday, 2 February 2009


At least 20 people – mainly elderly – have been killed by the heat in Australia. Victoria and South Australia had seen the thermometer rising above 40°C (104°F) for days on end, though now temperatures seem to have subsided.

It’s often forgotten that in Europe, heatwaves are probably the deadliest weather events we get. In August 2003, when the UK recorded its highest ever temperature of 38°C, it’s estimated that up to 50,000 died from the heat across the continent.

In France, where perhaps 15,000 perished, the deaths caused a political storm. Because the heatwave attacked in August, much of the country was already shut down, with doctors and government ministers off on holiday. Families were accused of abandoning elderly relatives who were only found dead alone in their apartments when neighbours noticed the smell. The director-general for health resigned, and the health minister lost his job the following year. For more, see A Disastrous History of the World.

Cheering photos....if you feel the need to be cheered up, see this photo collection:-

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