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Freak Heatwaves Strike Spain, Russia

Spain?s North African enclave of Melilla, on a small peninsula on Morocco's Mediterranean coast, was hit by freak heatwaves on Monday, sending temperatures shooting up as much by as 30 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes.

Spain?s Meteorological Institute said it registered two heat surges during the morning, the first sending thermometers soaring from 75 F to 105 F before the temperature went down again within 15 minutes. An hour later, the second burst of heat pushed temperatures up by 59 F before again cooling down a few minutes later.

?I was working with the window open when it suddenly started getting very hot and gusty. It was like a hot desert wind and we quickly shut the windows and got the air-conditioning on,? says a receptionist at a government building in Melilla. The weather office said that a mass of hot and dry air had replaced a layer of cooler moist sea air near the city, causing temperatures to surge and creating gusts of wind of up to 44 mph.

In Moscow, record numbers of people have drowned this summer, while seeking relief from a heatwave by swimming in the city?s lakes and rivers.

Temperatures in the Russian capital have climbed to over 86 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a week, with temperatures soaring even higher in other parts of eastern Europe.

Emergency services said 18 people drowned on Saturday, a record for any single day, as the thermometer hit 91 F. 211 people have drowned since the beginning of the summer season.

?It is sad to say but many people do drown here,? says Igor Elkis, chief doctor with Moscow's ambulance service. ?And most of them drown in an inebriated state. Most are young people who lose control in the state of drunkenness. Usually it is a drunk group which forgets about someone and would not notice even if he cried for help.?

Russian television has shown crowds of young people drinking beer on rubbish-strewn beaches alongside signs banning swimming. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov last week urged guests at a beer festival outside the city?s largest stadium not to mix beer with vodka, which is popular with those who want to cool off quickly.

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