Spain hit by heatwave as temperatures reach 44ºC

A heatwave enveloped much of Spain on Sunday, driving temperatures to extreme levels and sending locals and tourists scurrying for shade and cooling waters.

A woman cools off with a fountain's water during a heat wave, in Seville on July 10, 2021
A woman cools off with a fountain's water during a heat wave, in Seville on July 10, 2021 © Cristina Quicler, AFP

National weather office AEMET issued heat warnings for most of the country, with the thermometer forecasted to rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Madrid and the southern city of Seville for the second day running.

Spain's first bout of extreme heat of the year is forecast to spread east on Monday before easing. Only a sliver of Spain's northern Atlantic coast will be spared.

Some sought respite from the scorching heat in the air-conditioned galleries of Madrid's Prado museum, whose collection includes works by Rembrandt, Rubens and El Greco.

"We thought this would be a good plan for a day like today," said Rosa Alfageme, 44, waiting in line to enter the museum with her husband and six-year-old daughter.

"It's like this every year, we almost forget," said Alfageme, adding the family does not have air-conditioning at home.

Others headed to the nearby Retiro Park, home to a large artificial lake, or to municipal swimming pools.

Tickets for all the capital's 19 outdoor swimming pools were sold out on Sunday. Capacity was limited due to virus safety measures.

The authorities advised people to drink water frequently, wear light clothes and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

Temperatures rose to 44 Celsius Sunday in Murcia, in southeastern Spain, according to the Spanish meteorological bureau.

Spain's highest temperature on record is 49C.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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