113 DEGREES: Record heat strikes France, crippling country

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France issued its first-ever “red” weather alert since a new warning system was put into place after scores of deaths in a similar heat wave in 2003. 

The red alert is the highest warning and was issued on Thursday for the Marseille and Montpellier areas in southeastern France, the Associated Press reported. Temperatures in those areas are forecast to reach as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit today.

Some 4,000 schools across the country closed. 

An estimated 15,000 heat-related deaths were reported in France following the 2003 summer heat wave. The deaths prompted the nation’s weather service to institute a four-level warning system for high temperatures.

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