Europe battles wildfires, drought and scorching temperatures as heatwave drags on

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Weather forecast latest Europe set to sizzle in 48C heatwave

But the Met Office says the probability that overall temperatures in the next three months will remain in the warmest category is 55 per cent, while the likelihood that they will be in the coldest is only five per cent.

Tyler Roys, a meteorologist from website AccuWeather, said it is possible that "between Friday and Sunday temperatures could reach 49 degrees centigrade in south-west Spain and in parts of southern Portugal".

They add "Iberia is not the only place seeing high temperatures, in fact much of Europe will see a rise in temperatures by Friday".

But the all-time highest record for continental Europe is 48C (118F) set in Athens, Greece, on 10 July 1977.

Eight places across the centre, south and east of the country have already broken their local temperature records in the unprecedented hot weather.

Spain's highest recorded temperature is 46.9 degrees Celsius in Cordoba, a southern city, last July.

Though the region has avoided the worst of the heat, the fire has been spreading through eucalyptus forest and dense undergrowth, the Civil Protection Agency says.

Temperatures are being driven higher by a hot air mass moving northward from Africa.

Temperatures could reach a baking 48C in parts of Spain and Portugal this weekend.

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China and ASEAN have held talks for years to try to ease tensions and prevent the disputes from degenerating into open conflicts. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims to China's in the sea.

Southwark Council said it was suspending the use of barbecues in Burgess Park, south London, after London Fire Brigade warned people to take extra care during the hot weather. "I've been here in the summer but it has never been this hot".

Two died of heatstroke in the southeastern region of Murcia, Spanish radio Cadena Ser reported, while another man died in Barcelona on Friday, emergency services said.

A branch of the K-Supermarket chain in Helsinki's Pohjois-Haaga district has invited 100 customers to sleep in its air-conditioned store on Saturday.

Forecaster of the edition declared that "a unsafe, potentially record-breaking heat wave" in the Iberian Peninsula can reach "the upper values of 40 degrees (40 to 50 - ed.)".

Temperatures approached 30 C this week in Finland, where the August average is 19 C. EDF said the decision was made to avoid overheating the rivers.

In Scandinavia, temperatures hit records until a few days ago.

July's average United Kingdom maximum temperature was 22.6C from July 1-30, hotter than 1976's 21.6C, and the second-hottest since records began 108 years ago in 1910, behind only 2006's 23.2C.

Dozens of the country's Baltic Sea beaches have "no swimming" warnings due to health risks from algae blooms.

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