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Europe swelters in record high heat

LONDON -- Lions licked blood-flavored ice blocks in the zoo, judges went wigless in court, and guards at Buckingham Palace ducked into the shade.

Britain yesterday faced the hottest day ever recorded in July as a heat wave swept much of Europe. Temperatures hit 97.3 degrees near Gatwick Airport, setting the record.

Two people died in Spain as temperatures climbed above 104 degrees, while officials in France said as many as nine people who died recently were believed to be victims of the heat.

But with its aging buildings and infrequent brushes with sweltering temperatures, Britain was particularly ill-equipped for the heat wave.

London's Underground has no air conditioning and one newspaper measured temperatures in the train system at 117 degrees. Operator Transport for London takes no measurements but did not dispute the figure.

In France, the high temperatures reached 97 degrees in Paris yesterday and 102 degrees in Bordeaux a day earlier.

Elsewhere in Europe, temperatures at 4 p.m., when daytime measurements generally peak, registered 95 degrees in Berlin, 93.9 in Brussels, and 95.5 in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

In the Netherlands, the Nijmegen 4-Day March was canceled after two participants died in the heat. Some 300 people doing the popular walk became ill Tuesday in temperatures that reached 95 degrees, and 30 were hospitalized.

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