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Rio de Janeiro bakes in record heat

Unseasonably high temperatures in Brazil, around 5C above normal, are due to continue until Friday
Unseasonably high temperatures in Brazil, around 5C above normal, are due to continue until Friday

A heat wave that has settled over large parts of Brazil has sent temperatures soaring in Rio de Janeiro to levels more akin to an oven.

Thermometers read 39 degrees Celsius but that did not convey the intensity of the heat, authorities said.

The "feels like" temperature in Rio de Janeiro was 58.5C.

This is a measurement of how hot or cold it feels like on the skin, depending on humidity, temperature and wind speed.

This record high marked "the highest thermal sensation since the beginning of records" in 2014, surpassing highs of last February of 58C, according to the Rio Alerta system.

Authorities placed 15 states in the southeast, center-west and part of the north of the country, in addition to the capital, Brasilia, under alert by the National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) due to extreme heat.

The extreme heat also hit São Paulo residents, where thermometers rose to an average of 37.3C yesterday afternoon, with a low humidity of 21%, according to the municipal Climate Emergency Management Center (CGE).

Unseasonably high temperatures, around 5C above seasonal normal, have been punishing Brazilians especially since last weekend and will continue until Friday, Inmet estimated in a bulletin issued on Monday.

Sweltering heat sent electric power consumption soaring to record levels, the National Electric System Operator said.

As a consequence of the phenomenon known as El Niño, Brazil has suffered in recent months the impact of extreme weather, with a historic drought that has emptied rivers in the Amazon and intense rains accompanied by cyclones in the south of the country.

In addition, fires caused mainly by human action in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, have been aggravated in November by an exceptional drought.

In May, the World Weather Attribution, whose scientists study the link between extreme weather events and global warming, said such extreme heat would have been "almost impossible without climate change".

According to the World Meteorological Organization, Europe is the world's fastest-warming continent which has been heating at twice the global average since the 1980s.

Since the mid-1800s, the world has warmed an average of nearly 1.2C.

But in Europe, the figure is almost double, with the continent now 2.3C hotter than in pre-industrial times, the organisation said in a report at the end of June.

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