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  1. ITV Report

Three dead as Saharan bubble heatwave sweeps across Europe

People cool down in water near the Eiffel Tower. Credit: AP

A Sahara-style heatwave spreading over parts of Europe, and making itself felt in Britain, has killed three people.

An “enormous” reservoir of warm air that has triggered emergency measures in France where the conditions have been linked to the deaths of three swimmers on south coast beaches.

A 70-year-old man was believed to have been a victim of “thermal shock” after coming into contact with the water during the heat spell on Tuesday, according to French news outlet LCI.

Two other people, a 62-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man, reportedly died in similar circumstances.

A man uses an umbrella to avoid the heat. Credit: PA

Temperatures are expected to reach 45C in some parts of the continent later this week, although one German moped rider has already had his collar felt (metaphorically) after being caught driving around in the nude in a desperate attempt to keep cool.

Highs of 30C (86F) could be seen for eastern parts as far north as Yorkshire, while temperatures will be in the upper 20s for revellers at the Glastonbury Festival.

A resident in the zoo in Hannover, Germany, takes a dip in a fur coat. Credit: Hauke-Christian Dittrich/AP.

The plume of hot air from Africa moving north across the Mediterranean, has led some meteorologists to predict new June records will be set in France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium in the coming days.

Some schools closed in France while Germany, famous for not having a speed limit on motorways, introduced temporary restrictions on drivers.

Cool spaces and water were on hand, as authorities sought to avoid a repeat of the 2003 heatwave in France, which is thought to have caused up to 15,000 deaths, particularly among the elderly.

Bishops shelter from the sun as they wait for the start of Pope Francis’ weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP

France has been bracing for the heatwave, with temporary fountains also put in place and plans for public pools to stay open for longer, amid forecasts suggesting temperatures could exceed 40C (104F) this week.

The hot spell is set to be relatively short-lived in the UK, with unsettled weather moving in from the Atlantic on Sunday.

An elephant is hosed down at Berlin Zoo to keep it cool. Credit: PA

Met Office forecaster Matthew Box told the Press Association: “There is an enormous reservoir of warm air across Europe at the moment.

"On Friday we will have high pressure over the UK and low pressure out in the Atlantic, and that will bring settled weather conditions across the UK and an easterly flow of air across the southern half of the country.

“Those easterly winds are drawing that warm air from the near continent and that reservoir across the UK and that’s why we’re getting those warm temperatures.

“We are looking at 28 or 29 degrees (82-84F), perhaps peaking at 30 here or there on Friday and that will be across western or south-western parts of the UK.

“Then we could see 30 or 31 across eastern areas of England; London and the Home Counties through Lincolnshire and parts of Yorkshire, on Saturday.”

  • An orangutan cools itself down in Vienna

Meanwhile, police in the state of Brandenburg tweeted a photo of a man who went to extraordinary lengths to keep cool - he was stopped riding his motorbike naked.

A German moped user took the unusual step of stripping off to keep cool. Credit: Eurovision

What is thermal shock?

Cold shock, otherwise known as hydrocution, occurs when the human body is subjected to a sudden decrease in temperature.

It typically occurs when someone falls through ice into very cold water, but can be triggered when a body goes from a very hot place - like a beach - to cold water such as the sea.

Hydrocution causes blood vessels to quickly constrict, placing strain on the heart.

While this is not typically fatal, it can cause lethal cardiac arrests in people with heart conditions.

Medics advise entering water slowly during heatwaves to avoid it.

Tourists enjoy the summer temperatures in the snow on the Titlis mountain near Engelberg, Switzerland. Credit: Alexandra Wey/AP