Heatwave temperatures may top 45C in southern Europe
Alerts issued in Portugal and Spain as Met Office forecasts 31C for southern England
Much of southern Europe is sweltering in near record-breaking temperatures with the mercury expected to exceed 45C (113F).
A scorching 46C was forecast for Setúbal, near Lisbon, on Saturday, as emergency services in Portugal issued a red alert until Sunday and urged people to avoid picnics and outdoor activities.
The Met Office said temperatures had risen to 45.5C in Alvega in central Portugal on Saturday afternoon and were still rising.
On Friday, 16 weather stations in Portugal registered record temperatures with Alcácer do Sal, near Setúbal, climbing to 45.9C.
The hot, dry conditions have led to several wildfires in Portugal. Nearly 700 firefighters are battling the biggest outbreak, near Monchique in the Algarve region.
Portugal’s highest recorded temperature was 47.4C, in 2003.
In Spain, a high of 45C was forecast for Córdoba and heat warnings have been issued for 41 of the country’s 50 provinces.
High temperatures contributed to the deaths of two men in Spain on Friday – one in Barcelona and the other in the Murcia region, authorities said.
Spain’s record high temperature of 47.3C was set in Cordoba in July 2017.
The Met Office did not, however, expect the record European temperature of 48C, set in Athens in 1977, would be broken this weekend.