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Macedonia Declares State of Emergency amid Heatwave
    2007-07-19 23:08:27     Xinhua

Macedonia declared a state of emergency on Thursday across the whole nation due to the sweltering weather that is gripping the western Balkan country, news reaching from Skopje reported.

  

"This decision will be in effect for at least 14 days, with a possibility of extension," Pande Lazarevski, head of the Crisis Management Center with the Macedonian government, said while unveiling an action plan, which contains guidelines to cope with the heat wave over the next two weeks.

  

Hellish heat with temperatures reaching 40 plus degrees Celsius will hit Macedonia in the next few days. Macedonian meteorologists predict that temperatures in the country's south are expected to reach 44 degrees Celsius while the temperature in capital Skopje is expected to rise to 42 Celsius over the weekend.

  

The heat wave has caused widespread wild fires in Macedonia. There are a total of 217 fires reported across the nation, roughly 2,500 hectares, and 70 percent of them are forests, Makfax, Macedonia's independent news agency, reported.

  

Meanwhile, the government has announced to introduce a six-hour work day scheme to reduce working hours, trying to alleviate the scorching situation caused by the heat wave.

  

Macedonian Health Minister Imer Selmani said on Thursday that employees working in covered areas and business premises will work from 7 a.m till 1 p.m., while those operating outdoors will work in two shifts-from 7 a.m to 11 a.m and from 6 p.m to 8 p.m.

  

He said these preventive measures, due to come into effect from July 20, are mandatory for the state and public administration, and recommendatory to the civic sector and business community.

  

A new heat wave is gripping parts of the Balkans where temperatures have hit 42 degrees Celsius, causing wild fires and heat related deaths. And a previous heat wave in June claimed the lives of more than 30 people across the Balkan region over a two-week period.

  

Meteorologists said that the heat was caused by a heat mass from Africa, predicting that temperatures will begin to drop from July 27.

 

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