A relentless heat wave rocking Europe has left some of the oldest glaciers in the Alps in need of a blanket to protect them from melting.

The Rhône glacier in Switzerland is just one of the victims of the extreme temperatures the continent has experienced in recent days.

A spate of wildfires has seen firefighters battling blazes in Portugal, Spain and southern France – as well as in Turkey across the Mediterranean.

Planes dumping water were dispatched to help fight the worst of some of the wildfires.

Tourists have been evacuated from campsites in Gironde, France, where more than 2,700 hectares have been scorched so far, while temperatures are expected to top records in Portugal and Spain.

Bing Xing is happy with his summer treat. Photo: Associated Press

Madrid Zoo giant panda Bing Xing enjoyed a watermelon popsicle provided by keepers to keep him and the other animals cool.

Along with his daily ration of 50 kg of fresh bamboo, Bing Xing, whose name means “ice star”, greedily chewed frozen fruit on a stick.

A gray seal eats frozen fish, during the second heat wave of the year at the Zoo Aquarium in Madrid, Spain, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera
A gray seal gets a treat of frozen fish

Predatory animals like lions or seals were offered “lollipops” made from beef or fish, depending on their diet. Zoo keepers also doused the animals with water.

Birds ‘may start falling from the sky’ – all UK weather updates live

People carry their dogs as they evacuate after a forest fire, in Leiria, Portugal July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Rodrigo Antunes
People grab their pets as they evacuate after a forest fire, in Leiria, Portugal
A man in a swimsuit takes a shower on the roof of a building in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Another heat wave in Spain and Portugal is expected to last until the weekend.  Already high temperatures are steadily climbing, raising fears of sparking more wildfires out of control.  (AP Photo/Paul White)
A man takes a cold shower on the roof of a building in Madrid

In Portugal’s southern Algarve region, popular with tourists, authorities blocked access to the luxury resort and golf course of Quinta do Lago as thick plumes of smoke rose from a nearby area that had ignited due to high temperatures.

Read more:
Frightening fires break out as temperatures in Portugal soar to 46C

And in the central district of Leiria, north of Lisbon, where temperatures soared to 45°C (113°F), police were forced to block a major highway due to a similar fire.

A traffic light is seen in front of a pharmacy thermometer indicating a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (113F), as a heat wave hits France, in Nantes, France, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
A pharmacy thermometer shows soaring temperatures in Nantes, France

Villagers who had not been evacuated poured water on the roofs of their houses in an attempt to cool them down and prevent them from catching fire.

People cool off on an urban beach at Madrid Rio park in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. Meteorologists say Spain is set to experience its second heat wave in less than a month and it will last at less until the weekend.  Meteorologists said a superheated air mass and warm African winds are pushing temperatures across the Iberian Peninsula past their usual highs.  (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
People cool off on an urban beach in Madrid

Almost the whole continent Portugal is on red alert for extreme heat conditions.

A helicopter carries water during forest fire extinguishing works near Becerril de la Sierra, on the outskirts of Madrid, Tuesday July 12, 2022. A heat wave, the second for Spain in less a month and the first this year for Portugal, is expected to last at least until the weekend, officials said on Tuesday.  Already high temperatures are steadily climbing, raising fears of sparking more wildfires out of control.  (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Helicopters dump water on forest fires on the outskirts of Madrid. Photo: Associated Press

The World Meteorological Organization has warned that ‘human-caused climate change’ is triggering droughts, and a UN report says the number of extreme wildfires is set to increase by 30% over the next 28 years .

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