It's a summery Easter weekend, but the sea is too cold to swim in

Friday was the first regional ‘summer’ day in the Netherlands this year, with the temperature topping 25 degrees in the Limburg village of Arcen. Saturday is likely to be a day of nationwide summer temperatures, according to weather forecaster Weerplaza. A day is officially classed as summery if the temperature hits 25 degrees at the De Bilt weather station near Utrecht. The weekend is forecast to remain warm and sunny, although there may be some cloud on Easter Monday and it will be cooler. But despite the heat, day trippers are being warned that the sea will still be too cold to swim in, the Dutch lifeboat association said. Beach-goers who do take a dip should beware of the risk of hypothermia. ‘Go up to your ankles in the water but not deeper because your body will cool off quickly,’ a spokesman said. The official Dutch beach season starts at the end of May and many beaches do not yet have lifeguards.  More >

More Easter bonfires banned

Almost half the 120 traditional Easter bonfires planned for the holiday weekend in Overijssel province have been banned because the long drought and warm weather has increased the risk of the fires spreading. Enschedé, Dalfsen and Hardenberg have banned fires in several villages and in other places the celebrations have been adapted to take the risk into account, broadcaster RTV Oost said. The annual competition between the villages of Espelo and Dijkerhoek to build the biggest fire has also been scrapped, the broadcaster said. Local officials gave the fires the green light, on the condition they contain no more than 500 cubic metres of wood. This would allow a fire of just eight metres high, well below the usual height of 20 metres. Dozens of fires have also been banned in parts of Gelderland, broadcaster RTV Gelderland said. The habit of building massive outdoor bonfires for Easter is particularly popular in Gelderland and Overijssel.  More >

Bail-out for bankrupt Boxmeer hospital

The Dutch health ministry is to put €10m into a hospital in Noord-Brabant province to head off the threat of bankruptcy. Health minister Bruno Bruins told MPs in a briefing that the investment will be spread up to 2022 and that Rabobank and health insurer VGZ are also involved in the bail-out. The hospital, near Boxmeer, is part of the Pantein health group and covers 130,000 people.  Bankruptcy, the minister said, would mean that key care - including emergency services and maternity care - would not be available within a 45-minute drive. The hospital's problems have been caused by a real estate contract dating from 2008 which the hospital had little influence on, Bruins told MPs. Last year, the government opted not to bail out two other hospitals which went bust. Both were owned by a private healthcare company.  More >

Birds starve as drought hits

Friesian birding organisation BFVW is warning that newly born chicks are dying because of a lack of insects brought on by drought, and are calling on farmers and people with gardens to provide water. The plight of the lapwing is particularly serious, the organisation said. ‘The chicks are hatching en masse at the moment and immediately go off in search of food. But they are not finding any. The drought in the fields is such that the chicks are dying of hunger before they are two days old,’ the website said. Adult meadow bird are experiencing problems as well because the worms have retreated deeply into the dried-out soil which their beaks cannot penetrate. ‘It’s very sad to see the dead chicks, but there are some simple measures we can take to help them, BFVW chairman Frans Kloosterman said. Farmers can pump water onto their land and fill up ditches, so insects will return and worms surface, the organisation suggests, and gardeners can create puddles so swallows are able to use the mud they need to build their nests.  More >