Care for elderly stepped up as Italy swelters in driest year ever

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MILAN (REUTERS) - Volunteers delivered food and medicines to elderly people living alone in Milan on Friday (Aug 5), as another heatwave swept through northern Italy in what is the country's driest year since records began.

The "City Angels" service operates all year but has been stepped up over the baking summer as Milan officials look to prevent vulnerable people from leaving their homes in high temperatures.

On Friday, temperatures are expected to top 37 degrees Celsius and remain elevated on Saturday before the prospect of some welcome rain on Sunday.

This year has so far been the driest since records began in 1800, according to monthly data from the National Research Council's climate unit.

Rainfall is down by 46 per cent across the country, with the north including Milan worst affected.

Water levels in the river Po, which crosses northern Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic and helps to irrigate crops, have fallen significantly .

Domenico Giuliani, a City Angels volunteer, said there had been an increase in requests for help because the elderly often do not have air-conditioning and fans provide little respite.

Milan resident Giancarla Meazzi, 80, said she copes with the heat by drinking a lot of fluids, taking walks in the courtyard of her home and sitting out on her terrace, but not during the hottest hours of the day.

"This summer (the heat) has made me feel crazy," added Angelo Casciano, 79, as he received his box of food.

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