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Spain’s weather stations warn of extended heat wave

People sunbathe at a beach in Castelldefels, Spain, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Weather stations across Spain are warning people to take extra precautions as a heat wave engulfs much of the country, increasing the risk of wildfires. The country's meteorological agency says a mass of hot air originating in Africa is moving northwards, bringing temperatures reaching 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s meteorological agency on Saturday warned people to brace for high temperatures across much of the country over the coming days, amid a lingering European heat wave.

The agency said “temperatures will be significantly higher in much of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands,” exceeding 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) and reaching 40 C (104 F) in much of the southern and eastern parts of the country.

The forecast predicted some respite in the form of showers and thunderstorms on July 10-11.

Many European countries, including Spain, France and Britain, have struggled to find relief from unusually high temperatures in the past week, although the U.N. weather agency said the continent is better prepared than ever to avoid major heat casualties.

Last week, weather stations across Spain warned people to take extra precautions because high temperatures increase the risk of devastating wildfires.

Many scantily-clad participants in Madrid’s Gay Pride parade sweltered in 36 C (97 F) heat on Saturday while older residents looked on, bearing the heat stoically.

“As Madrid-dwellers, we are used to high temperatures,” said Ines Zurdo, 78. “But you can tell it’s unusually hot because the trees are beginning to shed their leaves,” she said, brushing aside a little pile of dry, brittle plane tree leaves from the seat at a bus stop.

Across the border, Portugal also braced for fires after an exceptionally dry winter and the hottest and driest June for 12 years. Almost 54 percent of mainland Portugal is enduring severe drought.

Even in Denmark in northern Europe, scores of people flocked to beaches to cool down as temperatures climbed above 30 C (86 F) Saturday.

At the Roskilde Festival, the largest music event in the Nordic region, Ida Kristensen told the TV2 channel that she was skipping the Saturday evening concert with former Beatle Paul McCartney, considered one of the eight-day event’s biggest names, to return home, saying “the sun has won.”

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Associated Press correspondent Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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