Fire and rain reak havoc in Europe

Summer normally brings high temperatures and afternoon showers, but extremes can be deadly.

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    A man checks his destroyed car after a landslide destroyed the centre of the village of Sankt Lorenzen, Austria [Reuters]

    As the week ended across Europe, fire and rain brought destruction to two separate countries.

    For days southern Portugal has had all the ingredients for the making of a wildfire: dry air, temperatures reaching to 39C, and wind gusts up to 43kph.

    And then it happened. “In a moment”, is how residents of southern Portugal’s Algarve region described the speed that wildfires started and spread on Friday.

    One woman said, “Despite my age I have never seen anything like this.”

    900 firefighters were recruited from all over the country to help tackle the most serious fires in the hills near Tavira. Fires were also burning near Cadeiro and Sao Bras de Alportel.

    In total, 35 wildfires, of all ranges in magnitude, are burning in the Algarve. As of Friday evening, five homes had been destroyed with six firefighters being injured.

    Dry and gusty winds will continue to hamper firefighting for the next few days.

    In Austria on Saturday it was a completely different weather phenomenon that was responsible for one casualty.

    Triggered by days of heavy rain, a mudslide came ripping through the small village of Sankt Lorenzen in the early morning hours when most of its residents would have been asleep.

    A local farmer had his complete farm destroyed by the event, while many of the other buildings in the village saw similar damage. The mudslide was preceded by a wall of timber of up to 6 metres high, as trees were swept down the mountainside.

    Firefighters and the Austrian Army are now helping in the cleanup of the town of which is currently without running water and power.

    Weather will cooperate for the few days, but showers are expected again for the region on Tuesday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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