The storm swept across Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Slovenia, which have experienced a period of hot and dry weather in recent days.
Thursday July 20, 2023 3:30 p.m., United Kingdom
Six people have died in a powerful storm that hit much of the Balkans, while southern Europe continues to face a scorching heatwave.
Dozens of people were also injured as strong winds and heavy rain hit countries including Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Slovenia.
It is the second storm in two days to sweep across the Balkans and meteorologists say it is particularly strong due to a recent period of hot, dry weather in the region.
In the Croatian capital, Zagreb, two people, a 50-year-old man and a 48-year-old man, died after being hit by falling trees.
A firefighter from the eastern Croatian town of Tovarnik also died during the storm, his unit said, without revealing further details.
Another person is reported to have died in Croatia, one in Slovenia and one in Bosnia.
Elsewhere in Zagreb, a 36-year-old man was seriously injured when a construction crane collapsed, police said.
Serbian police said emergency teams rescued 40 people and extinguished 20 fires caused by thunder and lightning.
A 12-year-old girl was taken to hospital after a tree fell in the northern city of Novi Sad, doctors said.
Authorities have warned that more storms are possible in the coming days before the next wave of very hot weather begins in the region.
It comes as southern Europe continues to face a scorching heatwave.
Firefighters from across the European Union are heading to Greece, as the country battles wildfires for another day.
Teams from Poland, Romania and Slovakia are expected to travel to Greece later.
Israel also pledged to send two firefighting planes, in addition to the four Italian and French planes used near Athens.
The Greek Meteorological Service says there is a higher risk of fires from today as this week’s intense heat has dried out the land.
Parts of southern Greece are expected to reach 44°C by the end of the week.
In parts of southeastern France, temperatures were “very high” overnight, with nine fire services on orange alert.
Residents and tourists in the southeast of the country are urged to stay safe despite the scorching heat.
Temperatures there are expected to reach the mid-30s Thursday afternoon.
The World Health Organization has warned that health systems are under increasing pressure due to the extreme heat gripping the northern hemisphere.
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The global health body called on local and national governments to identify people potentially at risk of extreme heat, saying hospitals should ensure they have action plans for future heatwaves.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency feared that people least able to cope with extreme heat would be hardest hit.
He also confirmed that WHO is now working with another UN agency, the World Meteorological Organization, to help countries develop hot weather action plans to coordinate preparedness.