A 'vicious' Saharan Bubble heatwave roasting Europe has claimed its first victims after three people died in France from suspected cold shock after diving into the sea from a hot beach.
A 70-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday at Marseillan Plage, near Montpellier - the day the heatwave began - before a 62-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man died on Tuesday in the same region, it was revealed today.
Temperatures of 102F (39C) are expected in central France today, rising to 113F (45C) by Friday, which would break the all-time record set in 2003 at 111F (44.1C). Nearly all of the country is on orange alert - the second-highest warning level after red.
Dozens of schools have already shut across the country due to insufficient air conditioning while in Paris more than a million of the most polluting vehicles have been banned from the capital for the day, with the city especially prone to smog in heatwaves.
Hot air blown in from North Africa by an unusually strong jet stream is roasting Europe in an early-June heatwave that has seen threat-to-life warnings issued across France, Germany and northern Spain.
Forecasters have compared the conditions to the 2003 heatwave which occurred around the same time of year and killed an estimated 70,000 people across the continent. Early season heatwaves are considered more dangerous because people's bodies have not had time to adjust to summer conditions.
June records are set to be broken this week in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
In Britain, temperatures are expected to reach 80F (27C) amid muggy conditions today before climbing further at the weekend when highs of 93.2F (34C) are possible.
Cooling off: A 'vicious' Saharan Bubble heatwave roasting Europe has claimed its first victims after three people died in France from suspected cold shock after diving into the sea from a hot beach. A woman is pictured enjoying the breeze next to a fountain in Berlin this afternoon
A woman in a bikini walks through a water feature in Parc Andre Citroen as a heatwave gripped Paris today. Temperatures are set to rocket beyond 100F in France today - before climbing further at the end of the week
Hot air blown in from North Africa by an unusually strong jet stream is roasting Europe in an early-June heatwave that has seen threat-to-life warnings issued across France, Germany and northern Spain. Sunbathers relax on La Concha beach in San Sebastian, Spain amid sweltering conditions today
Feeling the heat: The Pope wipes his face with a tissue during his weekly general audience on St Peter's Square at the Vatican this morning amid rocketing temperatures
Temperatures were climbing across Germany this morning with many taking to outdoor pools to cool off (pictured, a public pool in Berlin today)
A plume of Saharan air is bringing scorching June temperatures across Europe, which are set to climb even further on Wednesday before peaking in some parts on Thursday and Friday
In Britain, temperatures are expected to reach 80F (27C) amid muggy conditions today before climbing further at the weekend when highs of 88F (31C) are possible. Revellers arriving at Glastonbury festival today were wearing boots after torrential heavy rain earlier this week - but their attire will likely change when temperatures climb on Saturday
Britain is also set for a blast of hot weather. Sunbathers are pictured in Boscombe, Dorset, this afternoon with forecasters predicting temperatures to top 90F this weekend
Temperatures in Britain are set to top 77F (25C) Wednesday, with some forecasts predicting highs of 80F (27C)
The majority of France (left) was issued with an orange heat warning - meaning danger to life even among healthy people - for the second day running on Wednesday. The majority of Germany (right) was also issued with a heat warning (in purple) advising people to take care in the sun
In Trier, Germany, it reached 99F (37C) on Tuesday, with slightly cooler temperatures of 95F (35C) expected in Berlin today. Overnight temperatures peaked at 79F (26C), bringing no respite from the heat.
Further north, in the state of Hesse, 38 swimmers, many of them children, who flocked to a swimming pool amid soaring temperatures suffered injuries due to an increased chlorine concentration in the water.
Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, tweeted: 'At our Potsdam station, operating since 1983, we're set to break the past June record by about 2C.'
Cold shock, otherwise known as hydrocution, occurs when the human body is subjected to a sudden decrease in temperature.
It typically occurs when someone falls through ice into very cold water, but can be triggered when a body goes from a very hot place - like a beach - to cold water such as the sea.
Hydrocution causes blood vessels to quickly constrict, placing strain on the heart.
While this is not typically fatal, it can cause lethal cardiac arrests in people with heart conditions.
Medics advise entering water slowly during heatwaves to avoid it.
In bizarre scenes today, police in Brandenburg posted on Twitter two pictures of a moped-riding man clad in only his helmet and sandals.
And in the south of the country, some female sunbathers who went topless at Munich's Isar river touched off a row as five fully-clad security men walked over to tell them to put their bikini tops back on, Sueddeutsche daily reported.
Several other sunbathers nearby stood up for the women at the weekend, with one telling the newspaper: 'We took off our bikinis out of solidarity.'
The south of France, where the three people died, has been among the regions worst affected by the European heatwave, with temperatures topping 92F (33C) on Tuesday. That will climb again to 99F (37C) today.
The highest reliable June temperature previously recorded in France was 106.7F (41.5C) on June 21, 2003.
The country's highest ever temperature, recorded in southern France on August 12 in the same year was 111.38F (44.1C).
Guillaume Woznica, a French forecaster, said Meteo France was predicting temperatures as high as 113F (45C) on Friday. He added: 'The latest forecasts leave little room for doubt: we are heading for a new national record.'
In Paris, vehicles carrying 'Crit'Air 3' stickers will be barred from roads. More than a million cars are registered in that category under the sticker scheme, which assigning vehicles with ratings from one to five based on how polluting they are. Level five vehicles have already been banned.
Burly security guards ordered a group of women who were sunbathing topless on the banks of the Isar, Germany to put their bikini tops back on
In Germany, rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who are at particular risk in high temperatures. Pictured: Young people cook off in a fountain in Lustgarten park, Berlin today
Refreshing: Children cool down at the fountains of Parc Andre Citroen, during a heatwave in Paris, France, today
People swim in the Eisbach river that runs through the English Garden in Munich, Germany amid soaring temperatures today
In the shade: A tourist uses an umbrella to protect himself from the sun, as a heatwave hits Ronda, southern Spain
Paris woke up to a thick cloud of smog on Wednesday as strong jet stream winds drew clouds of dust up from the Sahara
A man stands in a park in Madrid at the start of a heatwave tipped to break records across Europe
Taking the plunge: Swimmers cool off in the Eisbach river that runs through the English Garden in the German city of Munich
A woman cools off in a water fountain in Madrid. Experts say such heatwaves early in the summer are likely to be more frequent as the planet heats up - a phenomenon that scientists have shown to be driven by human use of fossil fuels
Two women resorted to standing next to sprinklers in front of the Chancellery during scorching conditions in Berlin, Germany, this morning
Italy's health ministry, meanwhile, has issued a maximum red alert for heat for six cities on Thursday and for 16 on Friday, Ansa reports.
Forecasters predict temperatures rising even above the record 2003 heat wave with more than 104F (40C) conditions expected in the worst hit areas. Officials warned against exposure to the sun between 11am and 6pm.
Doctors in Rome have warned of possible health hazards caused by overflowing rubbish bins in city streets as the Italian capital struggles with a renewed waste emergency aggravated by the summer heat.
Waste disposal is a decades-long problem for the Eternal City. Rome was left with no major site to treat the 1.7 million metric tons it produces every year when the Malagrotta landfill was closed in 2013.
In Switzerland, a level four warning of severe danger is now in place for the Basel region, central Valais and Ticino with 102F (39C) forecast.
In Poland, the interior ministry said 90 people have drowned this month while seeking to cool off in lakes or rivers.
Likewise in Lithuania, 27 people were reported to have drowned so far as temperatures in the Baltic state soared.
Meanwhile, about half of Spain's provinces are on alert for high temperatures, which are expected to rise as the weekend approaches.
Large parts of western and central Europe sweltered in scorching weather Wednesday, with German authorities imposing autobahn speed limits amid fears of buckling road surfaces and some French schools staying closed as a precaution. Pictured: A woman cools off by a fountain in Berlin
A stand-up paddler and a sailing boat make their way over the Ammersee lake as sun rises in Diessen, southern Germany, this morning. The country is facing baking conditions over the coming days
People queue up at the entrance of a public bath in Berlin, Germany this morning. Weather warnings are in place across large parts of Europe
Berlin residents could be seen cooling off in fountains and sprinklers this morning as temperatures crept up in the German capital
The Montparnasse Tower covered by high levels of air pollution as seen from Meudon in Paris, France, on Wednesday
People in bathing suits walk through the English Garden in Munich, Germany, as temperatures