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Blackouts in Europe as heatwave intensifies

The mercury was pushing 40°C across much of northern Europe on Wednesday as a blistering heatwave saw blackouts in France and emergency ice cream handed out to lemurs at a Dutch zoo.

As the hot front continued its sweep up from Africa, the UN warned heatwaves were growing more frequent and intense due to climate change, and called on more countries to put warning systems in place to inform people of the dangers.

At the Safaripark Beekse Bergen zoo in The Netherlands, staff had already put their emergency procedures in place — including ice cubes for baboons, cold showers for the elephants, and special meat- and fruit-flavoured ice cream for the ring-tailed lemurs.

Around a million homes in western France were left without power overnight Tuesday after the heatwave moved in from Spain, and another blackout struck the western Vannes region Wednesday morning, cutting electricity to 100,000 houses.

Firefighters handing out water to people stuck in traffic after an accident involving a truck on the E40 highway, on July 1, 2015, in Erpe-Mere, Belgium. (David Stockman, Belga photo/AFP)
Firefighters handing out water to people stuck in traffic after an accident involving a truck on the E40 highway, on July 1, 2015, in Erpe-Mere, Belgium. (David Stockman, Belga photo/AFP)

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