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At least 18 swimmers die during heatwave

UPDATE: A US student and an eight-year-old boy are among at least 18 swimmers to have died since Friday as bathers try to cool off in a heatwave which has brought highs of 36C to Germany.

At least 18 swimmers die during heatwave
Lifeguards try to rescue a man on the beach in √úckeritz in northern Germany on Sunday. Photo: DPA

At least seven people died in Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, four in Berlin and Brandenburg, three in North Rhine-Westphalia, two in Bavaria, one in Hesse and one in Lower Saxony. 

The 19-year-old US student died on Friday in the Bavarian Allgäu after falling into a waterfall. A 23-year-old friend tried in vain to pull her from the water, a police spokesman said on Saturday.

The American and three locals had wanted to swim to the Buchenegger waterfalls in Oberstaufen. But while climbing a five-metre high cliff, the 19-year-old slipped and fell into the water.

The 23-year-old jumped in after her, but couldn’t help and had to be rescued himself, according to police. Divers recovered the body of the woman, who is believed to be from Tacoma in the state of Washington.

Her family has been informed. One man from her hometown said: "We are a community in mourning for a wonderful teenager."

And in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania seven people drowned over the weekend while swimming.

A police spokesman in Rostock said that an eight-year-old boy was among the dead. He disappeared into the water while swimming on Sunday at Graal-Müritz on the Baltic coast. He died later in hospital in Rostock.

An 88-year-old man also died on Sunday swimming in a lake in Feldberger Seenlandschaft.

A husband and wife, both aged 59, died swimming off the beach in Rügen on Sunday. The couple from Bergen were found lifeless in the water.

And on Saturday a 46-year-old man from Hamburg who was on holiday at Hiddensee died in the Baltic Sea.

There were also deaths in Brandenburg. On Sunday the body of a 69-year-old man was recovered from the Havel river at Rathenow and on Saturday a 69-year-old died from heat failure while swimming in Grabowsee also in Brandenburg.  

According to the German Life Guard Service (DLRG) 250 people drowned in Germany last summer in the holiday season from June to mid-August.

Men over the age of 60 are at particular risk, the DLRG said.

The heatwave is set to end with storms and cooler temperatures hitting the country from Monday, according to state weather service DWD.

CLICK HERE for a more detailed forecast

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WILDFIRES

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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