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ROME (Reuters)

Mediterranean countries issued severe weather warnings on Thursday, as a heatwave pushed temperatures above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Europe and falling water levels exposed World War Two munitions along the banks of a river in Germany

Italy issued red alerts – the highest of three warning levels – across the centre and north, indicating widespread health risks in cities including tourist magnets Rome, Florence and Venice.

 

Women rest on the grass as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
Women rest on the grass as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

Heatwaves have become common in Italy, and between 2005 and 2016 some 23,880 people died in 23 Italian cities of heat-related problems, a report by the region of Lazio found.

Forecasters expect Italy’s heatwave to break over the weekend with powerful thunderstorms across much of the country.

 

 

Portugal said temperatures in the coming days could beat records and warned of a high risk of forest fires, fearful of a repeat of blazes that killed 114 people in 2017, a disaster that forced the interior minister to resign.

Wildfires in Greece last month killed 91 people.

 

A dog drinks water from a public fountain as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
A dog drinks water from a public fountain as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

In the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, police warned people not to touch the grenades, mines and other weapons that have emerged from the mud on the banks of the River Elbe since the heatwave caused a drastic reduction in the water level.

In just a few weeks, police have found 24 pieces of World War Two munitions – dumped at the end of the conflict by Russian, Western and German forces – near the water, compared with 12 in the whole of last year.

Specialist technicians are working overtime to make them safe, in some cases defusing them on site.

 

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, Madeline Chambers and Axel Bugge; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

 

A boy runs on the beach as temperatures soar throughout the country, at the coastal town of Oostduinkerke
A boy runs on the beach as temperatures soar throughout the country, at the coastal town of Oostduinkerke, Belgium August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

 

A child is protected from the sun as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
A child is protected from the sun as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

Tourists rest in the shade as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
Tourists rest in the shade as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

A woman fans herself as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
A woman fans herself as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

Bottles of water are displayed for sale at a street kiosk as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
Bottles of water are displayed for sale at a street kiosk as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

Tourists protect themselves from the sun under umbrellas as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
Tourists protect themselves from the sun under umbrellas as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 

A man stands on the beach as temperatures soar throughout the country, at the coastal town of Oostduinkerke
A man stands on the beach as temperatures soar throughout the country, at the coastal town of Oostduinkerke, Belgium August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

 

People walk in and out of the shade as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid
People walk in and out of the shade as temperatures soar throughout the country, in Madrid, Spain, August 2 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera
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