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Just How Bad Is the European Heat Wave?

As fatal wildfires ravage the Athens region, Northern European cities are broiling in record-breaking summer heat.
A woman stands amid the charred remains of burned-out cars in Mati, east of Athens. Wildfires have killed more than 70 people in Greece.
A woman stands amid the charred remains of burned-out cars in Mati, east of Athens. Wildfires have killed more than 70 people in Greece.Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

After forest fires raging since Monday killed at least 74 people in the region just north of Athens, the Greek government declared a state of emergency in the province of Attica today. Caused by especially hot dry summer weather, details emerging from the disaster are horrific—notably the discovery of the bodies of 26 people, including children, who were trapped while trying to escape the flames in the seaside resort of Mati.

The severity of the situation has been greeted with shock in Athens, whose skies have darkened to a haze as smokes blows across the region. But it has not necessarily been met with surprise: Large swaths of Europe have been frying during a record-breaking heat wave.