ATHENS/NIKOSIA/ANKARA (dpa-AFX) - Sun-seeking tourists are currently getting their money's worth in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey - but like many locals, they are also suffering from the unusual heat. Temperatures in south-eastern Europe are reaching extreme levels earlier than in other years: In three regions in Greece, temperatures topped 39 degrees on Tuesday - the highest they have been at the beginning of June since records began, according to the Greek Meteorological Office.

The Cypriot weather authority issued an "extreme heat warning": temperatures on the third-largest island in the Mediterranean were expected to reach 44 degrees on Tuesday and the following days. "High temperatures are a health risk for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and young children. Follow the instructions of the authorities," it said. In general, doctors recommend avoiding outdoor activities during the day, drinking plenty of fluids and wearing light, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.

Turkey has also been hit by the heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees. According to the Meteorological Service, temperatures are 8 to 12 degrees above the seasonal average. Meteorologist Orhan Sen told CNN Türk that the current temperatures could only be a harbinger of extreme heat waves in July and August.

With the persistent heat and drought in the region, there is growing concern about forest fires - especially in Greece, where huge areas fell victim to the flames last summer. This year, 3543 small and medium-sized forest fires had already been registered by the beginning of May - an increase of 22 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Greek fire department. One of the reasons for this was the very dry winter, which caused drought in parts of the country. As a result, fires - whether started deliberately or caused by negligence - have an easy time of it./axa/DP/stw