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Greece weather heatwave: Foreign Office warns tourists after four dead and more missing in record early temperatures

Simon Calder’s Travel

Greece is counting the cost of an early deadly heatwave that has taken the lives of several tourists and presented a taste of the extreme weather it is likely to face this summer.

An urgent warning has been issued to anyone travelling to the country as four holidaymakers have died and more are missing amid record temperatures.

A favourite holiday destination for much of Europe, Greece has now been hit by the earliest heatwave on record. A heatwave is classed as temperatures exceeding 38C for at least three days.

Tourist sites in sweltering Athens and beyond were forced to close on Wednesday and Thursday. The Acropolis shut its doors to visitors after reports of people fainting while waiting in line. Greek authorities issued a level three heat alert, sending automated warnings to phones that urged people to work from home and avoid strenuous outdoor activities.

Greek state TV meteorologist Panos Giannopoulos said the country has seen its earliest reported heatwave: “In the 20th century we never had a heatwave before 19 June. We have had several in the 21st century, but none before 15 June.”

Chania, a city on the northwest coast of Crete recorded the highest temperature, with the mercury reaching 44.5C on Thursday. The area was also hit by a 3.7 magnitude earthquake on Friday morning.

The heat, twinned with an earlier season than usual, has seen several tourists die, even before the high period starts.

The spike in heat comes in the same week that TV doctor Michael Mosley was found dead on the island of Symi in the Dodecanese island group close to Rhodes. He collapsed during a walk in the heat.

The ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ presenter, 67, was found dead on Sunday, four days after he went missing. His wife said he took the wrong route on what was supposed to be a short walk to the next town.

The path would have taken him over or alongside a steep slope littered with rocks and no shelter from the heat that hit 37C. It is estimated that his time of death was around 4pm local time on Wednesday. He had left friends on the island’s Agios Nikolaos beach at around 1.30pm to go for a walk.

A search and rescue operation for TV doctor and columnist Michael Mosley on the island of Symi
A search and rescue operation for TV doctor and columnist Michael Mosley on the island of Symi (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Elsewhere in Greece, a 67-year-old Dutch tourist was found dead in Crete on 5 June. The man collapsed while crossing the Mylon gorge in…

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