A 450kg WWII-era bomb has resurfaced at the bottom of an Italian river, as a record heatwave continues to batter Europe and dry up waterways.
The Po river, in the country’s north, is the largest in Italy but is slowly receding as temperatures push near 40C late into the northern hemisphere’s summer.
The device was found near Borgo Virgilio, a village in Lombardy, in July and was finally detonated in a controlled explosion on Sunday.
The bomb – which contained 240kg of explosives – could not be safely disposed of until the village’s 3,000 residents left the area.
“At first, some of the inhabitants said they would not move, but in the last few days we think we have persuaded everyone,” local mayor Francesco Apori said.
Meanwhile, farmers have grave fears their harvests could be damaged for years to come as a result of the consistently rising heat in the region.
Europe is also suffering through a series of forest fires that experts say are being driven by climate change.
“We haven‘t analysed fully this year’s event because it is still ongoing,” Andrea Toreti of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre said via Business Standardon Sunday.
“There were no other events in the past 500 year similar to the drought of 2018. But this year, I think, is worse.“
The effects of the drought are also driving thousands from their homes as fires ravage the continent.
The blazes have destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.
For nearly two weeks last month, thousands of firefighters struggled to put out Slovenia’s largest wildfire in its modern history.
But the worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data, followed by Romania (150,528 hectares) and Portugal (77,292 hectares).
The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.
“On 2022, it is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.
“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.
Since 2010 there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.
“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.
Meanwhile in the UK, temperatures exceeded 40C for the first time ever a few weeks ago.
Another wave of heat has hit Britain since, causing water companies to bring in hosepipe bans to conserve dwindling resources.