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Brits desperate to cool down as mercury hits historic 40C

#Brits #desperate #cool #mercury #hits #historic #40C

Runways melted, people struggled to sleep and the Queen’s Guard used desk fans as they sweltered in heavy ceremonial uniforms as Britain hit record-breaking temperatures on Tuesday.

Normally cool and often rainy in summer, the UK seared under a fierce heatwave this week, triggering an unprecedented extreme heat alert and leaving Brits desperate for a cool down.

In some parts of England, mercury rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time on record.

“Everything seems to be coming to a standstill,” said retiree Bob Heathcote, 71, in the central England town of Worksop.

Normally he was involved in church activities, but now he said, “People don’t feel comfortable coming out.”

Congestion eased in several cities as motorists heeded warnings to stay off the roads.

In eastern England, a section of a dual carriageway buckled, police said, making it look like skate park bumps.

Emergency repairs were carried out to match those on the runways at Luton Airport north of London and the Royal Air Force base at Brize Norton.

“Faults” – widely reported as “melted” parts of the surface – forced flight cancellations and other diversions on Monday.

“The infrastructure, much of which was built in the Victorian era, just wasn’t designed to withstand that kind of temperature,” admitted Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

– ‘Worse than at home’ –

Network Rail, which is responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure, said a stretch of track had reached a staggering 62C in eastern England.

“Rail temperature can be about 20°C higher than air temperature, causing it to stretch, bend and break,” she tweeted.

Passengers have been instructed to only travel on Monday and Tuesday if absolutely necessary, with delays, cancellations and service changes.

Trains ran at reduced speeds, including on London’s underground system.

As a precaution, the East Coast Main Line between London King’s Cross and York and Leeds in northern England was completely closed on Tuesday.

Outside King’s Cross, US tourist Deborah Byrne ponders how to get to Edinburgh after being forced to stay one more night in London.

“This is our humid weather at home,” she told AFP. “That’s why we were actually looking forward to the cool weather,” she said. “No worse than at home – because you don’t have air conditioning.”

Many people were perplexed.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Jayanth Bharadwaj, a Germany-based graduate student trying to get to Cambridge. “I have to come up with something before I run out of energy.”

Photographer Ashley Meerloo, who was trying to get to St Albans north of London, was also upset.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “They have trains in Australia. They work. What’s the problem here?”

– “Just too much” –

Health workers across the country also bore the brunt.

“We see that hospitals are having to reduce the number of surgeries scheduled because the operating rooms are too hot,” said Miriam Deakin of NHS Providers, who represents hospitals in England.

“Trusts have to install industrial cooling units, mount fans and try to cool IT server rooms.”

Many braved the sunshine outside, trying to cool off as best they could after the hottest night on record disrupted sleep.

In central London, some dipped their feet in Trafalgar Square’s fountains or took a dip in Hyde Park’s Serpentine.

Red-faced troops in heavy ceremonial uniforms and helmets standing guard outside Horse Guards Parade were seen with table fans.

Water was brought for their horses.

In parliament, the strict dress code was even relaxed, and male MPs were allowed to take off their jackets.

Elsewhere, people flocked to open-air swimming pools or seaside resorts as some schools closed at the start of the summer break.

“I didn’t sleep most of the night,” Paul Fairweather complained in Worksop.

“There doesn’t seem to be any respite at all. Yesterday it wasn’t too bad in the shade places, but today it’s just too much.”

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#Brits #desperate #cool #mercury #hits #historic #40C

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