Scorching weather gripped three continents on Sunday, stoking wildfires and threatening to topple temperature records.
At the Vatican, 15,000 people braved sweltering temperatures to hear Pope Francis lead prayer, using umbrellas and fans to cool off.
In Japan, authorities issued heat stroke alerts to tens of millions of people in 20 of its 47 prefectures as near-record temperatures scorched large areas and torrential rains hit other regions.
National broadcaster NHK warned the heat was life-threatening, with the capital and other places registering nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Japan’s highest temperature on record – 41.1C (106F) first recorded in the city of Kumagaya in 2018 – could be beaten, according to the weather agency.
Some places on Sunday experienced their highest temperatures in more than four decades, including the city of Hirono in Fukushima prefecture with 37.3C (99.1F).
Meanwhile, the US National Weather Service has warned that a “widespread and oppressive” heat wave in southern and western states is expected to peak, with more than 80 million people affected by heat warnings. excessive heat or Sunday heat advisories.
Southern California is battling numerous wildfires, including one in Riverside County that burned more than 7,500 acres (3,000 hectares) and prompted evacuation orders.
In Europe, Italians have been warned to prepare for “the most intense heat wave of the summer and also one of the most intense ever”.
Forecasts of historic highs in the coming days have led the Ministry of Health to issue a red alert for 16 cities, including Rome, Bologna and Florence.
Temperatures are expected to reach 40°C (104°F) in Rome by Monday and rise on Tuesday, breaking the record of 40.5°C (104.9°F) set in August 2007.
Meanwhile, at least 4,000 people have been evacuated due to a forest fire on the island of La Palma in Spain.
The ongoing fire, which started on July 14, has so far devastated more than 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres) of woodland.