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Temperatures Sizzling in E. Europe

August 4, 1998

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Eastern Europe is sizzling from a 3-week-old heat wave that has reportedly claimed at least 20 lives in Romania, buckled streetcar tracks in Hungary and smashed temperature records.

Temperatures soared past 104 degrees again today in the southern Balkans region, suffering through its worst heat wave in half a century.

How hot is it?

So hot Serb forces in Yugoslavia’s troubled Kosovo province were heating their baked beans by setting the cans on the metal surface of armored personnel carriers.

In Bucharest, where the mercury has hit at least 97 degrees every day since early July, ambulances were on heat patrol and the capital’s emergency services received 2,500 calls in the past four days.

Hospitals in the city of 3 million were crowded with people who have suffered strokes, heart attacks, sunstroke or have fainted in the scorching heat.

Residents were plunging into the city’s fountains, the dirty Dambovita River and lakes to keep cool.

Bucharest Mayor Viorel Lis has sent City Hall workers home at lunch time every day to avoid heat-related accidents and has urged other employers to do the same.

In the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, the Health Ministry has recommended people stay indoors from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. because of the high temperatures.

In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, several dozen people fainted Monday on the hottest Aug. 3 in 111 years _ temperatures reached 102 degrees in the shade.

In the Hungarian capital, Budapest, public pools were standing room only and a streetcar line suspended operations Monday when the tracks along one stretch buckled.

A 77-year-old heat record for Aug. 3 was broken Monday when the temperature reached 98 degrees. It was even hotter in downtown Budapest _ 104.

``We just can’t work _ we have three fans going and it is still 95 degrees in the office,″ said Melinda Kis, a secretary at a travel agency.

In poverty-stricken Albania, where it was 108 degrees in the capital, Tirana, today, anxious mothers were taking their babies to hospitals for fear of health problems.

Croatia’s beaches weren’t offering much relief from the record-breaking heat either _ the Adriatic Sea was a warm 82 degrees.

Ukraine, which usually has mild summer weather, also had record highs of 104 degrees in the southern cities of Mykolayiv and Kherson.

A break in the weather is coming _ but not for long.

Attila Nadrai, head of Hungary’s National Meteorological Service, said a cool front is expected by Wednesday, but the forecast for the region next week calls for more heat.

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