Western European countries sweltered under a blistering June heatwave as the temperature rose above 40C in Spain and France.

Experts say the early heat wave is a sign of what's to come as climate change makes extreme temperatures normally seen only in July and August more likely in June too.
Experts say the early heat wave is a sign of what's to come as climate change makes extreme temperatures normally seen only in July and August more likely in June too. (AFP)

People have been flocking to parks and pools across Western Europe for a bit of respite from an early heat wave that saw the mercury rise above 40 C in France and Spain.

In Germany, where highs of 38 C were expected, the health minister on Saturday urged vulnerable groups to stay hydrated.

“Heat and too little fluids can be deadly for older people,” Karl Lauterbach tweeted. “We need to keep an eye on the elderly and those with disabilities today.”

Meanwhile, officials warned of wildfires across the western Mediterranean region as high temperatures and a long dry spell made for combustible conditions.

The European Commission's Copernicus Emergency Management Service said the fire risk was “extreme” and “very extreme” in much of Spain, the Rhone river valley in France, Sardinia, Sicily and parts of mainland Italy.

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'Really exceptional'

The 27-nation bloc has put 12 firefighting planes and a helicopter on standby to assist countries struggling with major blazes this summer.

Meteorologists in France described the situation as “really exceptional” and predicted that a peak of 43 C could be reached on Saturday before thunderstorms bring cooler weather in from the Atlantic.

Experts say the early heat wave is a sign of what's to come as climate change makes extreme temperatures normally seen only in July and August more likely in June too.

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Source: AP