Summer deaths rise, smog thickens

Two more people have died from heat related health problems, bringing the total death toll this summer to 17, the Health Ministry said yesterday as hot weather drove Athens pollution levels to dangerous highs. An 81-year-old woman from Edessa, northern Greece, who died from heatstroke was the latest victim. The Health Ministry said at least 15 people had been rushed to hospital and treated for heatstroke during the last 24 hours. On Tuesday, a 75-year-old man died on the island of Corfu, western Greece. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said the country’s health system was well prepared and there there was no cause for alarm. «We have activated an emergency plan for the second time in a month but the situation is under control,» he said. Temperatures, which reached as high as 45C (113F), also pushed up Athens pollution levels, prompting experts to describe the capital as one of the most polluted in the world. «Similar (pollution) levels were recorded in Paris in 2003, when dozens of people died. Normally, we see this kind of pollution in Mexico City,» Alexandros Papayiannis, associate professor at the National Technical University of Athens, told Kathimerini. Pollution levels in many parts of Athens exceeded safety levels. In Maroussi, northern Athens, particle emissions measured in the atmosphere at 4:00 p.m. reached 245 mg/m3 and 230mg/m3 in Peristeri, western Athens. The Environment Ministry’s warning level stands at 180mg/m3.

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