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Severe flooding has struck Orenburg, Russia, with water levels soaring two meters above critical levels, leaving rooftops barely visible. The mayor has urged residents to evacuate immediately as sirens blare throughout the city. The crisis is expected to worsen, extending to neighboring regions, including Kazakhstan, where 100,000 people have already been displaced.

This flood is deemed the worst in 80 years, triggered by rivers, notably the Ural, overflowing due to rapid snow and ice melt exacerbated by heavy rains. Orenburg, with a population of half a million, faces unprecedented evacuations and extensive property damage, while downstream areas like Orsk grapple with their own challenges following dam breaches.

Further east, rivers like the Ishim and Tobol are rising to perilous levels, with floodwaters threatening northern Kazakhstan and prompting evacuations. Efforts to reinforce dams and declare states of emergency in affected regions are underway, yet the scale of this disaster surpasses anything witnessed in recent memory.

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A recent spate of bomb threats in France has led to the arrest of 18 individuals, predominantly minors, involved in the disruptive activities. The threats have targeted significant landmarks such as the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre, along with schools, airports, and hospitals.

These incidents follow the recent stabbing of a teacher in Arras. Despite the heightened tension, the authorities maintain that there is no immediate specific threat. The bomb scares have been communicated through phone calls, emails, and a dedicated website.

Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti has warned the culprits of the consequences they will face, as authorities employ various means, including IP addresses and phone numbers, to track them down. Perpetrating a fake bomb threat in France constitutes a punishable offense with potential imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of €45,000 (£39,000).

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Wildfires in Greece have tragically led to the loss of 20 lives and are still raging out of control near Athens and the Evros region close to the Turkish border. Among those killed, 18 are believed to be refugees and migrants who had recently crossed the border and sought refuge in forests north of Alexandroupolis. Greece has expressed deep condolences for the deaths occurring in the Dadia forest near the Turkish border. The fires have been ongoing for five days and have extended along the coast and near the city. Efforts to contain the fires are being hampered by strong winds and scorching temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F).

The victims’ bodies were discovered near a shack close to the village of Avantas, north of Alexandroupolis, by the fire service. The fire service and local authorities had issued evacuation warnings through emergency services. The victims are believed to have recently crossed the border from Turkey along the River Evros, which is a common route for migrants and refugees attempting to enter the European Union. The risk of wildfires adds to the many dangers migrants and refugees face in their journey, including violence, arrest, and drowning in the Mediterranean.

The victims are predominantly male, with two of them being minors. The bodies were found within a relatively small radius, and their identification is expected to be challenging, necessitating the involvement of their relatives. Some individuals had been attempting to follow a well-established path through the forest to avoid detection.

Tensions have arisen in the local communities as some residents blame migrants for causing the fires. However, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that migrants were responsible for starting the Dadia forest fire. A video showing a man “arresting” migrants and refugees and accusing them of arson provoked outrage in Greece, leading to the arrest of the man behind the video and others involved.

In response to the tragic events, the Supreme Court Prosecutor initiated inquiries into both the causes of the fires in the Evros region and incidents of alleged racist violence against migrants following the deaths in the Dadia forest.

As the fires continue to spread, evacuations have been conducted in various areas, including villages near Alexandroupolis and parts of the capital city, Athens. The situation remains challenging for firefighters, compounded by the evacuation of nursing homes and the destruction of homes in some areas.

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Italy is experiencing severe and unprecedented weather conditions. In Sicily, there are ongoing wildfires due to record-breaking temperatures, with Palermo being particularly affected. The fires have caused significant damage and are threatening towns and cities across the island. There have been evacuations of resorts and tourist areas, and Palermo Airport had to temporarily close due to the proximity of wildfires.

In the northern regions, violent storms and strong winds have uprooted trees, damaged buildings, and injured people. Some places experienced hailstones as large as tennis balls, which caused further damage to property and crops. Tragically, there have been casualties as a result of falling trees during the storms.

Local authorities have issued warnings and precautions to residents, advising them to avoid public parks and places with trees at risk of snapping off. The extreme weather has also affected the city of Milan, with the historical Sforza Castle closing to the public due to weather-related damage.

Italian officials, including the mayor of Milan, have acknowledged the impact of climate change on these extreme weather events and emphasized the need to take action. The situation is being closely monitored, and several regions have requested the government to declare a state of emergency.

The situation in Sicily has been exacerbated by an ongoing heatwave, with temperatures reaching more than 47.5°C (117°F) in Catania. Hospitals and emergency services are overwhelmed with patients seeking medical attention for smoke inhalation and heat-related illnesses. The fires are causing widespread environmental damage and have been described as an “unprecedented catastrophe.”

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has acknowledged the severity of the situation and the challenges faced in firefighting due to the combination of high temperatures and strong winds.

Overall, Italy is grappling with the devastating impact of extreme weather events, which have been linked to climate change, and calls for urgent action to address the issue are increasing.

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