Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday that “more than 500 people” died during a 10-day heat wave in Spain, the most intense on record in the country.
Sanchez cited data released Monday by the Carlos III Institute of Health, which estimates the number of heat-related deaths based on higher-than-average deaths from previous years.
The institute stressed that these figures are a statistical estimate and not an official death record.
“During this heatwave, more than 500 people died because of such high temperatures, according to the statistics,” Sanchez said.
“I ask citizens to exercise extreme caution,” he said, noting that the “climate emergency is a reality”.
Spain has been hit by a heatwave that swept through much of Western Europe, which raised temperatures in some areas by as much as 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) last week, sparking dozens of wildfires.
The fire forced the evacuation of thousands and killed at least two, a firefighter and a shepherd as flames engulfed northwestern Spain.
Meteorological agency AEMET announced on Wednesday that the heat wave from July 9 to 18 was one of the most intense ever recorded in Spain.
“At a minimum, it is the third most intense heatwave in terms of its geographic extension and duration” since modern records began in 1975, AEMET spokeswoman Beatriz Hervella said.