April 23, 2024

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The planet is warming: More than 1,200 deaths in the Spanish oven

The planet is warming: More than 1,200 deaths in the Spanish oven

Madrid, Spain | Thousands of workers have to exhaust themselves in Spain under the scorching sun and temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.

• Read more: Weather: A heat wave to kick off the construction holiday

“There, it’s easily 5°C to 10°C warmer than outside, so maybe 45°C, 47°C. “It’s very difficult to work, but we have no choice,” he says Register Angel Gutierrez Agudo runs a kiosk selling newspapers and souvenirs on Calle Grand Via, Madrid’s most famous avenue.

Behind his counter, two fans help him with his seven-hour shift.

“I also drink a lot of water, but it takes a long time,” says the young man.

die of heat

Since July 9, Spain has been breaking temperature records. The mercury soared up to 45 degrees Celsius in some areas.

This is the first severe heat wave to hit the country, according to data from the State Meteorological Center (AEMED), the daily reported. El Pies.

In the nation’s capital, temperatures soared past 40 degrees Celsius on July 18, leading to more than 1,200 deaths, according to government data.

Among the victims were 60-year-old Madrid street cleaner Jose Antonio Gonzalez, at least three workers who suffered heat stroke.

“Because of the heat and the work, the companies and the town hall do not think about the health of the workers until death. They only start doing things when a colleague dies”, laments Luis Aguto, communications secretary of the Limpiezas union, which represents workers responsible for street maintenance.

In addition to the deaths, hospitalizations and dozens of heat strokes are reported to the union, Mr. Aguto says.

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Weak people

At Plaza Mayor yesterday, as the sun reached its peak, workers of Pakistani origin died in insignia.

“It’s hard to breathe, it’s very hot, but we have no choice but to be there. We have to earn enough to eat,” waives the man disguised as Luigi, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Luckily, it’s a little cooler than last week,” says his colleague, alias Mickey Mouse.

For her part, Maria Calles, 73, from Madrid, struggles to overcome these episodes of heat.

“I’m trying to stay calm, but I still have to go out. And it’s so hot outside that the ground is hot and makes my feet swell. I hope it ends soon,” she says.

We strive to walk in the shadows

Visitors and residents strolling the streets of the Spanish capital do everything they can to take a break from the heat and sun.

Along the sidewalks of Calle Grand Via, Madrid’s famous avenue, people jostle to walk in the shade.

Some rest by leaning against the buildings. Others brave the sun with an umbrella for protection.

Lots of water bottles

Angel Gutierrez Aguito works seven hours a day at his kiosk in the center of Madrid, where temperatures regularly exceed 45 degrees Celsius.

Photo by Clara Loiseau

Angel Gutierrez Aguito works seven hours a day at his kiosk in the center of Madrid, where temperatures regularly exceed 45 degrees Celsius.

Souvenir and newspaper kiosks sell something other than their primary products.

“I have been selling more than 80 bottles of water a day for some time now, which is much more than usual,” he says. Register Angel Gutierrez Aguto runs a storefront business on Main Avenue.

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Passers-by disappear

He notices that with the heat, the number of passers-by is very low.

“We see people going out especially in the evening. They are waiting for the temperature to turn pleasant again,” he adds.

Outside of the very touristy city center and its air-conditioned shops, some neighborhoods seemed abandoned. The streets are empty, and so are the few parks.

The curtains are drawn, the shutters closed: anything to prevent the heat from seeping in.


On the restaurant terraces, there is no time to quench your thirst with a glass or jug ​​of sangria. Many customers enjoy the shade of the parasol and misters.

Tim Hortons in downtown Madrid is also a great place to enjoy air conditioning and iced coffees.

In the evening, the city comes alive and residents go out to enjoy the restaurants and slightly milder temperatures, even if it is 33 degrees Celsius at 11pm.

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