Europeans fought to stay cool as a blast of hot air from the Sahara Desert sent temperatures to records in large parts of the continent, adding to concern about climate change.

Germany imposed speed restrictions on usually limit-free stretches of its highway network and several people were stopped by police for stripping in public. About 60 percent of vehicles registered in the Paris area were ordered off the roads, while shops in the French capital ran out of fans and air conditioners as residents who have rarely needed them before rushed to buy them. In Rome, high temperatures prompted keepers at the city's zoo to feed animals popsicles.

"Hell is coming," tweeted TV meteorologist Silvia Laplana from Spain, where temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and authorities warned of an "extreme" risk of forest fires.