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Europe braces for more record temperatures as heatwave hits peak

A ferocious heatwave that has broken temperature records across Europe is set to hit its peak on Thursday, sparking concerns about public health and new misery for rail travellers whose holiday plans have been badly affected.

After all-time temperature records were smashed in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands on Wednesday, Britain and the French capital Paris could on Thursday to see their highest ever temperatures.

Trains have been slowed in several European countries to avoid damage to the railway networks and French national operator SNCF has urged travellers to delay journeys planned for Thursday.

In the Netherlands, farmers have been leaving their cows outside to sleep, rather than bringing them in at night, while Dutch media said hundreds of pigs died when a ventilator failed at Middelharnis.

The heatwave, which is expected to ease up on Friday as rain and thunderstorms move in, had again focused public attention on the problems caused by climate change.

Authorities have warned people to keep an eye on those living alone and also to beware of taking the plunge to cool down after a spike in drownings.

Hundreds of travellers were stuck on trains in sweltering conditions outside Paris for several hours late Wednesday after a fire on an electrical transformer halted traffic in and out of the Gare de l’Est station in Paris.

This came after a failure on an overhead power line had halted train traffic between Brussels and London and Paris. It was not immediately clear if the fault was due to the heatwave but Eurostar warned further disruptions were expected Thursday.

“I ask everyone who can avoid or delay their journeys to do so,” said French Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne, saying workers who can do their jobs at home should not go to their offices.

“When it is this hot it is not just people in a fragile state who can have health problems,” she warned.

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