NICOSIA (AFP) – A searing heat wave gripping Cyprus triggered record demand for electricity yesterday as residents switched on the air conditioning full blast, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) said. «The power grid reached an output of 707 megawatts, an all-time record for electricity use in Cyprus,» an EAC announcement said. «Since the heat wave started, demand has increased 36 percent.» The island has wilted under temperatures well above the seasonal average of 33 degrees Celsius (91.4F) since June 7, with the thermometer peaking at 42C (107F) yesterday. A high-pressure system from North Africa is responsible for the heat wave but weathermen predict a period of cooling off starting today. The island’s fire and medical services are on alert to control blazes and treat heatstroke victims. Seriously criticized during the killer heat wave of 1998, which claimed 60 lives, the government has put in place wide-ranging contingency plans. The hottest day on record is August 8, 1956, when a temperature of 44.4C (112F) was registered.