Sicily Reports Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded in Europe as Wildfires Scorch Mediterranean
As wildfires swept through the Italian island of Sicily, fueled by an extreme heatwave, officials in one city recorded on Wednesday what is believed to be the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.
Local meteorologists in Siracusa reported that temperatures reached 48.8ºC or 119.8ºF, breaking the continent's previous record of 118.4ºF, which was set in 1977 in Athens.
The World Meteorological Organization still needs to independently confirm the high temperature. Local reports of the new all-time record are in line with the weather extremes that have been seen in the Mediterranean region.
Firefighters in Sicily and Calabria have carried out more than 3,000 operations in the last 12 hours. Thousands of acres of land have burned, and at least one death was reported in Calabria when a 76-year-old man's home collapsed in flames.
"We are losing our history, our identity is turning to ashes, our soul is burning," Giuseppe Falcomata, the mayor of the historic city of Reggio Calabria, said in a statement on social media.
Francesco Italia, the mayor of Siracusa, told La Repubblica that the area is "in full emergency."