France issues an alert after intense heatwave

Paris: The sunset had an orange glow and so does the new heat alert level for Paris. More than half of France, including around Paris, was placed on an orange alert for intense heat Monday — the second-highest level on the scale as very hot temperatures were predicted across continental Europe this week. The national weather agency Meteo France said the heat wave beginning Monday is expected to last all week with temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) across the country just as the summer tourist season shifts into high gear. The peak is expected Thursday. In Paris, charity organizations were patrolling the streets to provide water to homeless people and local authorities organized air-conditioned places where the public can seek shelter.

French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, deciding it was too hot to study, ordered national exams by students heading to high school postponed from Thursday and Friday to next week. Meteorologists say the heat wave is caused by hot winds coming from the Sahara Desert.The alert system was introduced in France following the summer of 2003, which saw an estimated 15,000 heat-related deaths, many of them older people left in city apartments and retirement homes that were not air-conditioned.

French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Monday that "everything is ready, in retirement homes, in hospitals, in transports." "Yet when people are fragile, even when everything is organized, there's always a higher mortality rate," she warned. Organizers at the Women's World Cup, which is being hosted by France, could be faced with implementing FIFA heat precautions, since knockout soccer matches at the tournament were being played every day this week except Wednesday and Sunday.

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