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More than 20,000 killed in European heatwave as roads melted and London Eye shut

Europe has suffered from scorching temperatures this summer, but the roasting summer of 20 years ago left 20,000 people dead in a record-breaking heatwave.

For the first time in 500 years, temperatures reached, at the time, record-breaking highs which killed 2,000 people in the UK alone, a grim statistic which lined up with the highest heat record in the country.

According to reports from the Met Office, the 2003 heatwave saw the UK rack up the fourth-highest death toll in heat-related incidents with its tragic death toll.

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France had the dubious honour of taking top spot, with 15,000 people succumbing to dehydration, heatstroke and even drowning when trying to cool off in lakes and rivers.

It was reportedly the hottest summer recorded in Europe since at least 1540.

Maximum temperatures were reached in parts of the world also, with some countries breaking their temperature record.

An eye-watering 38.5C was recorded in Brogdale in Kent on August 10, a record which has since been surpassed every year since 2019.

Deaths and record-breaking temperatures were not the only impact of the never-ending weather, with Germany shutting down nuclear power stations for fear the excess heat could see them explode.

The UK suffered from the sweltering heat nightmare as the tarmac between Junctions 26 and 27 on the M25 was melted.

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Even flights to and from the UK were suffering as a British Airways spokesperson said their planes needed to carry more fuel when temperatures rise so uncomfortably high due to the "higher pressure."

A series of tragic lake-related deaths were also recorded, with two teenagers left dead after trying to beat the heat by cooling off in a lake, The Telegraph reported at the time.

Christopher Jones, 17, died in a lake in Pontefract after failing to surface, while Mark Attwood, 17, was found dead in a Rotherham canal after going for a swim with seven other boys.

The London Eye also succumbed to the heat, with the capital city's tourist spot shut down for the day when it was found the pods were too hot to stand in.

The London Underground also struggled with the heatwave, with reports of the railroad buckling in the heat, while the over ground saw parts of the road melted away.

Travelling on the series of trams and trains is unbearable at the best of times, but in the high 30C heats, it became a footnote in a barbaric summer.

As a result of the heatwave, which spread to the likes of Portugal and Holland, which saw 2,100 and 1,500 dead respectively, the Met Office created a Heat-Health Watch which operates every summer to this day.

The Met Office body issues warnings to the public should daytime temperatures rise above 30C, or evening temperatures climb above 15C.

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