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HEAT BAKES PART OF EUROPE

Tourists are evacuated, old ordnance explodes, and 36 are dead.

Southern Europe sizzled under a heat wave Tuesday, with temperatures hitting triple digits for a seventh day in Romania, blazes forcing the evacuation of tourists in Croatia and Italy, and wildfires in Macedonia and Greece exploding shells from long-ago wars.

At least 36 heat-related deaths have been reported.

Romanian authorities warned residents to stay indoors during the midday heat in the capital of Bucharest. At least 27 people have died in Romania since last week, with 12 deaths reported Monday, said Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu. The victims, all over 70, collapsed in the street and had not taken precautions, such as wearing a hat, he said.

About 870 people collapsed Monday from the heat and nearly 19,000 people contacted emergency services, he added.

As temperatures in Bucharest hit 105 on Tuesday, heavy use of air conditioning caused power outages in the city, and Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian said energy consumption had surged by more than 50 percent.

State institutions were closed in midmorning and operating into the evening to lessen the need for air conditioning. Employers provided free water and cut work schedules. IN ITALY. Dozens of fires raged in central and southern Italy, destroying hundreds of acres of forest, amid high temperatures and winds.

Two charred bodies were found in a burned car in Puglia, while two other people were suffocated by smoke on a nearby beach, the ANSA news agency said.

A firefighting plane crashed in Italy's central Abruzzo region Monday, killing the pilot and seriously injuring a crew member.

Fires forced the rescue of about 250 beachgoers by boat on the Gargano peninsula, above the heel of the Italian boot, where temperatures hit 107 degrees, ANSA said.

Firefighters put out a blaze on the Amalfi coast, while in Castel Gandolfo - where the pope has a vacation home he usually visits in August - 247 acres of forest burned and two hotels were evacuated, news reports said. Other fires were reported in the region that includes Naples, Sardinia and central Italy. IN CROATIA. Authorities evacuated 1,400 residents and tourists from the southern island of Solta.

Long-buried ordnance from wars past posed another, unexpected threat in fires sparked by the hot, dry weather. IN MACEDONIA. Wildfires exploded some World War I shells, said Kostadin Popovski, head of an army mine division.

"A lot of this ordnance could be set off by the high temperatures and there is a risk for large explosions," Popovski said. "We have already had several explosions."

Fires raged near Macedonia's second-largest city, Bitola, killing one man. Rescuers saved 20 people from burning homes.

Thousands of firefighters and residents battled the fires, while President Branko Crvenkovski mobilized army units.

Temperatures in Macedonia reached 107 degrees amid a declared national emergency. IN GREECE. Old ordnance also exploded in northern Greece. Fires outside Kastoria ignited World War II shells, while others from the Greek Civil War of 1946-49 exploded in Epirus province.

Greek state services, including hospitals, remained on alert. Athens was expected to reach 113 degrees today, with high humidity and air pollution levels.

A 75-year-old man died Monday in Corfu, probably of heat stroke, authorities said. Two firefighters were killed Monday when their plane crashed in Evia as they fought forest fires. IN SERBIA. About 2,500 acres of forest were destroyed by wildfires, as temperatures reached record highs.

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help. Russia had sent a firefighting plane to Serbia via Bulgaria, but it was used there and will fly to Serbia today. Wildfires swept across Kosovo on Monday, as NATO peacekeepers and local authorities led evacuations.

Fast facts

Power outage in Barcelona

Shops in Barcelona operated with gas-powered lamps, traffic lights remained blank and courthouses turned to battery power Tuesday as Spain's most cosmopolitan city faced a second day of a major power outage. The blackout began Monday when a substation cable fell, hitting public transport, hospitals, homes and businesses, affecting 350,000 customers in all. A power company said 50,000 customers were still without power Tuesday.

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