A woman shelters from the sun with a shirt near the Colosseum during a heatwave across Italy. Image Credit: REUTERS

Paris: Extreme heat from a high-pressure system named Cerberus ‘after the three-headed hound from Dante’s inferno’ is bearing down on Italy, Greece and the Balkans.

“The earth has a high fever and Italy is feeling it firsthand,” Luca Mercalli, head of the Italian Meteorological Society, told CNN on Wednesday.

As a result of the heat wave, temperatures are expected to surpass 40 degrees Celsius in parts of Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Turkey, reports the BBC.

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The Italian Ministry of Health warned of “emergency” heat wave conditions in 10 cities, including Rome, Florence and Bologna.

Very high temperatures in central and southern Italy are predicted for Friday, when the capital Rome could see record-breaking temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees Celsius, CNN reported.

Tourists collapse

On Tuesday, a 44-year-old road construction worker died in hospital after he collapsed by the side of the road in the northern Italian city of Lodi.

“We are facing a wave of abnormal heat at unbearable levels. Perhaps it should be the case that during the hottest hours all useful precautions are taken to avoid tragedies like the one that happened today in Lodi,” CNN quoted politician Nicola Fratoianni, who has petitioned for regulations to protect workers during the ongoing heat wave, as saying in a Twitter post.

A tourist being helped after she collapsed in Rome. Image Credit: Reuters

In Rome, several tourists collapsed due to heat stroke on Tuesday and Wednesday, including an unnamed British tourist who passed out in front of the Colosseum in Rome.

The UK Met Office said that temperatures will peak on Friday.

Remote working in Greece

The Greek government is asking the private sector to use remote working if possible as temperatures climb toward 45°C (113F).

The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia are expected to test Europe’s all-time high above 48°C this month, according to the European Space Agency.

Climate change is bringing extreme heat and weather across the Northern Hemisphere, threatening the health of millions and disrupting energy and transport systems.

The average worldwide temperature climbed above 17°C for the first time ever on July 3 and has remained there since. That means the hottest 10 days ever recorded have all been this month.

Southern Italy and the Balkans are expected to see the highest peak temperatures in Europe over the next 10 days, according to forecaster Maxar Technologies Inc.

Europe’s record heat of 48.8°C was recorded in Syracuse in Sicily in July 2021.

Over 60,000 died last year

Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission’s radiometer instrument showed temperatures earlier this month on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily exceeded 50°C, the space agency said.

Greek authorities are saying that people shouldn’t work if conditions are dangerous.

Last year, more than 60,000 people died because of the summer heat waves across Europe, according to a recent study published in Nature Medicine.

The heat is also depressing water levels in the Rhine, pushing up the cost of transporting commodities on a key trade artery.

Temperatures in Frankfurt are forecast to peak at 36.5°C on Saturday, more than 6°C above the seasonal average, before cooling next week.

Meanwhile, the UK and Nordic countries will see cooler than normal temperatures over the next 10 days, with London almost 4°C below the seasonal average next Monday.