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It's too darn hot.

Europe is baking. Forests in southern France are on fire, fires that have been started deliberately but which are being assisted by winds and a lack of rainfall.

German farmers are growing increasingly concerned about their crops, which are already showing signs of failing this year.

In Switzerland, parts of glaciers are reported to be melting and lakes have reached the same temperature as the average bath.

But it is Italy that has been hit hardest. The drought stricken north is just weeks away from declaring a state of emergency.

In Rome, tourists are being forced indoors as temperatures soar to 36C (96F). Those who do venture out are watched like hawks by police if they dare to dip their feet in public fountains.

And across the country excessive use of air conditioning systems has caused the national grid to overload, resulting in power blackouts.

Back in the UK, we've still got drizzle. But with the weather set to pick up over the weekend, we could soon be sizzling with the rest of the continent.

Clockwise from main, a pigeon cools down in a fountain in Rome; two ethnic Albanian boys escape from the heat in a swimming pool in Maciteva village, 60 km south-west of Pristina, capital of Kosovo; the dry bed of the river Po near Stellata, Italy, between Ferrara and Modena. The drought that has been plaguing Northern Italy in the last weeks is putting at serious risk many valuable cultivations which depend on the Po for irrigation; a holidaymaker looks on as a Canadair fire-fighting plane swoops down on the Mediterranean to pick up sea water off Borgo beach in northern Corsica
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 1, 2003
Words:276
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