Three people have died on beaches in southern France as Europe finds itself in the grip of heatwave hell.
Soaring temperatures caused by a plume of North African air moving over Europe are said to be responsible for the deaths of three swimmers, who reportedly suffered from cold water shock.
A 70-year-old man reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest in calm water, while a 62-year-old woman and another man, aged 75, died in similar circumstances, according to French news outlet LCI .
French firefighters are warning people not to swim in too water that is too cold during the hot weather and swimmers are being advised to enter the water gradually.
Meteorologists have placed more than half of France on alert, with charity organisations patrolling the streets of Paris to provide water to homeless people.
Earlier in the week, European weather forecasters warned “hell is coming” as temperatures rocketed.
French authorities have also announced school closures and traffic restrictions due to the scorching temperatures.
Extra drinking fountains have also been installed on the streets of Paris -which is expected to be one of the worst-hit areas.
French Health minister Agnes Buzyn said: “This affects all of us, nobody is a superman when it comes to dealing with the extreme heat we’re going to see on Thursday and Friday.”
It is feared the heatwave could be as bad as a Europe-wide heatwave in 2003 which claimed 20,000 lives.
By Thursday, forecasters believe it could reach 42C in some Spanish regions, posing an “extreme risk” of forest fires
Meteorologists from AccuWeather say hot air moving from Africa is causing the potentially deadly heatwave.
Experts believe France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium could all see June temperature records set in the next few days.
Exams have been postponed for 800,000 schoolchildren in France because of the extreme temperatures.
Water breaks may have to be introduced at the Women’s World Cup in France, and some reports even say games could be under threat due to the weather .
Spanish weather agency Aemet says temperatures will top 35C across the country, but it could reach 42C in the valleys of Ebro, Tajo, Guadiana and Guadalquivir.
And Berlin will sizzle at 38C on Thursday, forecasters in Germany predict, with the rest of the country set to experience temperatures in the mid-30s.
In the UK, the Met Office and Public Health England have issued a Level 2 Heat Health alert – urging Brits to take extra precautions over the coming weekend, including drinking plenty of water and avoiding the outdoors during the hottest part of the day.
Bob Ward, communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said: “Based on experience of the past three summers, during which over 2,500 extra deaths occurred during bouts of hot weather, more than 100 deaths could be expected over the weekend.
“Many of these deaths are preventable if extra precautions are taken to protect those most at risk from overheating in their homes and other buildings, both during the day and night.”