Authorities across southern Europe are continuing attempts to control huge wildfires in countries including Spain, Greece and France, where thousands of people have been evacuated in soaring temperatures.

In Spain, helicopters dropped water on the flames as searing heat and often mountainous terrain made the job harder for firefighters.

National weather agency AEMET issued high temperature warnings for today, with highs of 42C forecast in Aragon, Navarra and La Rioja, in the north.

It said the heatwave would end on Monday, but warned temperatures would remain "abnormally high".

People observe a forest fire in Galicia, Spain

Spain has been experiencing a nearly week-long heatwave, with highs of 45.7C.

In Malaga province, wildfires raged into the night, affecting local residents near Mijas, a town popular with northern European tourists.

In France, wildfires had now spread over 27,000 acres in the southwestern region of Gironde, and more than 14,000 people have been evacuated, regional authorities said this afternoon.

More than 1,200 firefighters were trying to control the blazes, the authorities said in a statement.

Meteo France forecast temperatures of up to 40C in parts of southern France, with new heat records expected on Monday.

A firefighter works to contain a fire that broke out near Landiras, France

"The heat is intensifying. The heatwave is spreading across the country," the weather office said.

France has placed 37 departments, mainly down its Atlantic seaboard, on orange high alert on Sunday.

Authorities in the French Alps urged climbers bound for Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain, to postpone their trip due to repeated rock falls caused by "exceptional climatic conditions" and "drought".

The call comes after a section of Italy's biggest Alpine glacier gave way at the start of the month, killing 11 people - a disaster which officials blamed on climate change.

An Air Tractor AT-802F airplane takes part in firefighting operations in Pombal, Portugal

In Portugal, firefighters were trying to control five forest and rural fires in the centre and north of the country, the largest near the northern city of Chaves.

Portugal's Health Ministry said late yesterday that in the last seven days 659 people died due to the heatwave, most of them elderly. It said the weekly peak of 440 deaths was on Thursday, when temperatures exceeded 40C in several regions and 47C at a meteorological station in the district of Vizeu in the centre of the country.

The country is grappling with extreme drought – mainland Portugal already had 96% of its territory in severe or extreme drought at the end of June, before the recent heatwave, according to data from national meteorological institute IPMA.

Emergency and Civil Protection Authority Commander Andre Fernandes urged people to take care not to ignite new fires in such bone-dry conditions.

In Greece, the fire brigade said 71 blazes broke out within 24 hours yesterday.

More than 150 firefighters are tackling a fire burning forest and farmland since Friday in Rethymno on the island of Crete. The flames were fuelled by strong winds. Local fire brigade officials have said it had been partially contained.

In Britain, the national weather forecaster has issued its first red "extreme heat" warning for parts of England on Monday and Tuesday, predicting temperatures could reach 40C, topping the previous record of 38.7C in 2019.