Firefighters from across Europe struggled to control a massive wildfire in France on Thursday that engulfed a large swath of pine forest, while Germans and Poles were forced into a river flowing between their countries. There was a massive fish die-off.

Europe is grappling with a severe heat wave and drought, which have created tragic consequences for farmers and ecosystems already reeling under the threat of climate change and pollution.

Agricultural products and other food are being lost due to drought, when supply shortages and Russia’s war against Ukraine have fueled inflation.

In France, which is enduring its worst drought on record, flames engulfed pine forests overnight, illuminating the sky with an intense orange light in the Gironde region, which already last month was devastated by the flames, and in the neighboring Landes. More than 68 square kilometers (26 sq mi) have been burned since Tuesday.

French wildfires have already forced the evacuation of nearly 10,000 people and destroyed at least 16 homes.

Along the Oder River, which flows from Czechia north into the Baltic Sea, volunteers are collecting dead fish washed ashore in Poland and Germany.

WWF Poland’s Director of Conservation Policy Piotr Nijnaski said it appeared that a toxic chemical was released into the water by an industry and the low water levels due to the drought made the situation more dangerous for the fish.

“A tragic incident is taking place along the Oder River, an international river, and there is no transparent information about what is happening,” he said, calling on government officials to investigate.

People living along the river have been warned not to swim or touch the water.

Poland’s state water management body said even small amounts of pollution from drought and high temperatures could cause an ecological disaster, but it did not identify the source of the pollution.

In northern Serbia, the dry bed of the Konopljanxo Reservoir is now littered with dead fish that were unable to survive the drought.

The water level along Germany’s Rhine River was in danger of falling so low that it became difficult to transport goods, including important energy goods such as coal and gasoline.

In Italy, which is facing its worst drought in seven decades, the parched Po River has already caused billions of euros in damage to farmers who usually use Italy’s longest river to irrigate their fields and rice paddies. are dependent on.

“I’m young and I don’t remember anything like that, but even the elders in my village or other villages here have never seen anything like it,” said Antonio Sestri, a 35-year-old farmer from Ficarolo. Joe says he expects to produce only half of his usual crops of corn, wheat and soy because the water levels in his river-fed wells are so low.

The Po runs a distance of 652 kilometers (405 mi) from the north-western city of Turin to Venice. It has dozens of tributaries but northern Italy hasn’t rained for months and snowfall this year has been reduced by 70%. The drying of the Po also threatens drinking water in Italy’s densely populated and highly industrialized districts.

In Portugal, the Serra da Estrela National Park was also ravaged by wildfires. Some 1,500 firefighters, 476 vehicles and 12 aircraft were deployed to fight it, but reaching air-powered fire 250 kilometers (150 mi) northeast of Lisbon was very difficult, with inaccessible peaks about 2,000 m ( 6,560 ft) high and deep trenches. The fire has burned 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of woodland.

In Britain, where temperatures hit a record 40.3 °C (104.5 °F) in July, the Met Office has issued a new warning for “extreme heat” from Thursday to Sunday, with temperatures reaching 36 C (96.8 F). is estimated.

It has been one of the driest summers on record in southern Britain, and the Met Office’s Meteorological Service said there is an “extraordinary risk” of wildfires over the next few days.

The London Fire Brigade said its control room contained 340 grass, garbage and open fires during the first week of August, eight times more than last year. “The grass tinderbox in London is dry and the smallest spark could start a fire that could cause devastation,” Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said.

In Switzerland, drought and high temperatures have threatened fish populations and officials have begun to fish out some creeks that were drying up.

In Hausen, in the canton of Zurich, officials caught hundreds of fish, many of them brown trout, this week in the nearly dried-up Heischerbach, Zuchbach and Mühlbach creeks by anesthetizing them with electric shock and then immediately placing them in a water tank. went. Enriched with oxygen, local media reported. Later, the fish were taken to creeks where there is still enough water.

Despite all the damage caused by the extreme weather, Swiss authorities see a morbid upside: they hope to find some people who went missing in the mountains over the years because of their bodies. was being released as glaciers melted.

In the Swiss canton of Valais, melting glaciers have recently uncovered parts of a crashed airplane and, in different places, at least two skeletons. News website 20Minuten reported on Thursday that the bodies were yet to be identified.

Spanish state television showed dozens of trucks headed to France and had to stop in Spain as wildfires forced authorities to close some border crossings. TVE reported that truck drivers, many of whom were carrying perishable goods, were looking for ways to cross the border as the parking areas around the Irun crossing were full.

France is in a fourth heat wave of the year this week as it suffers what has been described as the country’s worst drought on record. Temperatures were expected to reach 40 C (104 F) on Thursday.

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