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Vietnamese in Europe suffer from blistering temperatures

By Duc Trung   July 21, 2022 | 08:30 pm PT
Vietnamese in Europe suffer from blistering temperatures
People cool off by a water fountain during a heatwave, at Trafalgar Square in London, Britain, July 19, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Henry Nicholls
Thanh Tu struggles to cope with the brutal heat wave Europe is going through, especially since his house in Britain, like most others, has no air conditioning.

"I have to buy more fans because they don't often sell air conditionings in the U.K.

"And if I do have air conditioning, using it too much will send my electricity bill skyrocketing," the seven-year London resident says.

The heat wave has engulfed several European countries.

The Met Office, the national weather service, said Britain recorded 40.2 degrees Celsius on Tuesday (local time), crushing the previous record of 38.7 degrees Celsius set in 2019.

The U.K. issued its first ever red extreme heat warning Monday.

Some roads and train routes had to be closed down because the extreme temperatures melted asphalt and deformed rails.

A general view of cracked earth with the houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben, seen behind as hot weather continues, in Parliament Square, London, Britain, July 12, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Toby Melville

A general view of cracked earth with the houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben, seen behind as hot weather continues, in Parliament Square, London, Britain, July 12, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Toby Melville

In a temperate country like the U.K., public transport is often designed to withstand a maximum temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.

Besides, buildings are constructed with materials primarily meant to retain heat to make winters bearable. As a result, it is unbearable indoors, Tu points out.

Countries in southwestern Europe are experiencing their second heat wave of the summer, with temperatures reaching "inferno" levels and sparking wildfires.

Many indigenous people in the U.K. and France say it is the first time in their lives that they have experienced such a severe heat wave.

"The temperature in Paris is now over 40 degrees Celsius," Marc, a 27-year-old office worker in the French capital told VnExpress Tuesday.

"While the weather normally becomes cooler in the evening, the air in Paris at night has gotten very stuffy over the past few days.

"It's extremely difficult to sleep in such conditions, especially since air conditioning is not widely available in France."

Most offices in Paris do not have air conditioning, he points out.

France is experiencing an exceptional heat wave, with 15 departments under red heat alert.

"The temperature is so high that the more you turn on the fan, the hotter it gets," Marc says.

In Spain, the prolonged heat wave has set off forest wildfires on an unprecedented scale.

A wildfire burns during night-time in Alhaurin el Grande, southern Spain, July 16, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Jon Nazca

A wildfire burns during night-time in Alhaurin el Grande, southern Spain, July 16, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Jon Nazca

Duc Thanh, a Vietnamese student in Madrid, describes the sweltering weather: "It's extremely hot as if I am standing next to an open stove. Temperatures occasionally reach 50 degrees Celsius.

"The scariest part was when I got out of the subway and a friend who was with me fainted and had to rest for an hour.

"Because they live in a temperate country, Spaniards do not have and use air conditioning and instead rely on fans, and so it is very hot both at home and on roads."

Over 600 troops from the military's emergency response force have been deployed to help firefighters and rangers combat the dozens of wildfires that are raging across the country.

The Ministry of Health has warned that the severe heat could have a negative impact on people’s health.

Sam, 28, of Madrid says he has never seen such widespread wildfires in the country, making the air even hotter and sultrier.

"My family has had to purchase an air conditioner, which is extremely useful these days. However, we cannot rely entirely on it because electricity is very expensive right now."

"We frequently draw the curtains to keep the sun out of the house and turn down the lights to create a cooler atmosphere. I also use a wet towel on the back of my neck."

For Vietnamese living in Europe, the heat wave is "bearable" since they are used to hot and humid weather back home.

While Marc, a native of Paris, feels the heat is excessive day and night, Quynh Anh says evenings in the French city are still "cool, sometimes cold."

Both locals and Vietnamese however raise concerns about the increasingly severe effects of climate change.

"In the past summer was usually shorter than winter," Dinh Thi Minh Chau, who is studying for a master's degree in political science in Vienna, Austria, says.

The current climate change means buildings in Austria, and throughout Europe, are unsuited to the current high temperatures because of their use of traditional materials and architecture.

According to scientists, heat waves are becoming more common as a result of climate change.

"We do expect it to worsen," World Meteorological Organization spokesman Clare Nullis said at a press briefing on July 12 in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Accompanying this heat is drought. We have got very, very dry soils at the moment."

In a report in July, the European Commission's joint research center said 46 percent of the E.U.'s territory is under warnings, with 11 percent at alert levels, with crops already suffering from the lack of water.

Spain is known as a "warm and sunny" country, according to Sam, but the extreme heat that occurs more frequently each year is not to be taken lightly.

"Climate change has a huge negative impact on us; there's no way to prevent similar heatwaves in the future unless we act quickly."

 
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