News World European heatwave: Swiss workers resort to swimming down Rhine to escape heat

European heatwave: Swiss workers resort to swimming down Rhine to escape heat

Workers in the Swiss town of Basel are commuting down the Rhine river to avoid Europe's stifling heat. Photo: Getty
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The record-breaking European heatwave, which has sparked calls for more urgent action on global climate change, has seen some commuters in Switzerland resort to a novel way of avoiding the stifling conditions.

As temperatures continue to hover in the high 20s, after maximum temperatures hit 36 degrees Celsius during the heatwave’s peak, workers in Basel are swimming to and from work down the Rhine – one of Europe’s largest rivers.

Unlike the polluted waterways that stretch through many of Australia’s capital cities, the river’s relatively healthy water quality enables city slickers to drift into work without fear of falling ill.

What about the current? While not overwhelming, it enables workers to travel from the city’s central business district to pristine suburban streets in minutes.

German news website Der Tagesspiegel says workers taking the cooler route will encounter an obstacle-ridden journey, courtesy of the city’s famous ferries.

However, the boats follow the same path and schedule, making the task easier for workers to navigate.

‘Baselers’ choosing to take the waterborne route to their 9-to-5 do face one dilemma: Where to stow their clothes, laptops and other office necessities.

Many utilise Wickelfisch (which translates to ‘baby fish’) – waterproof fish-shaped dry bags that double as floatation devices, which have come to symbolise the increasingly popularised pastime.

Records tumble during extreme weather event

Britain delivered its highest-ever temperature on record during last week’s European heatwave, with Cambridge registering a maximum of 38.7C on July 25.

The new peak beats the previous record high of 38.5C set in August 2003.

Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium also broke previous records on two consecutive scorching days.

The Netherlands and Belgium’s new highs now sit above 40C, having toppled previous records set during the 1940s, while Germany measured its first reading above 41C in the north-western town of Lingen.

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