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Swedish farmers in distress due to a historic drought

Hottest temperatures in over a century bring misery

Video: AFP

As an unprecedented drought scorches large swathes of Sweden's green pastures, farmers are having to send their animals to slaughter because they have no hay left to feed them.

"This is the worst thing I've ever experienced... my father who was a farmer for 60 years has never seen anything like this before," says Jacob Gustawson in Norrtalje, a town north of Stockholm, as the 47-year-old eyes the sky for the tiniest cloud offering some hope of rain.

But, aside from a paltry 13 millimetres that fell in mid-June, there has been practically none since the beginning of May, as Sweden pants under the hottest temperatures in over a century.

"May was exceptionally warm in southern and central Sweden. June was the warmest in more than 100 years in southernmost Sweden," Sverker Hellstrom of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute told AFP.

Firefighters say they are putting out between "20 and 30 wildfires per day" near Stockholm while other blazes are raging across the country, even in the Arctic circle.

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, who is also a landowner and rarely comments on public matters, expressed concern over the fires engulfing his nation.

"I and the royal family would like to express our support to all those who have been affected by the fires," he said in a statement.

A large part of Sweden, as well as Denmark, southern Norway and northern Finland, is currently experiencing a period of extreme heat which, according to weather forecasts, is unlikely to end soon.

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