China sweltering in worst heatwave in 140 years
In People’s Square rashers sizzled on paving stones within 10 minutes of exposure to heat
Visitors crowd an artificial wave pool at a tourist resort to escape the summer heat in Daying county of Suining, Sichuan province. Photograph: Reuters
The worst heatwave in 140 years roasted many parts of China yesterday, killing dozens of people.
Authorities warned the elderly especially to stay out of the sun, avoid too much activity and stay cool.
“In addition to those exposed to the sun, many people, especially the elderly, have gotten sick indoors because they don’t have air-conditioning. It’s important for people to pay more attention to heat stroke prevention,” Leng Guangming, an official from the Shanghai Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told the China Daily.
A pair of grey herons fell out of a tree in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, and had to be rescued, while in Shanghai’s People’s Square, rashers of bacon were sizzling within 10 minutes of exposure to the heat on the paving stones.
In Jiangsu, people performed similar tricks to fry fish. Tea trees went on fire in a tea garden in Hangzhou.
Temperatures in many southern and central Chinese cities have reached record highs since June, with Chongqing recording 40 degrees and some cities in Jiangxi registering 39 degrees.
At least 11 people have died of heat stroke in Shanghai so far this summer. The city’s temperatures have been 39 degrees or above in recent days and the local meteorological department said this July is the hottest in decades.
All along the Yangtze River, hundreds of lakes and tributaries have dried up due to a severe and prolonged drought, according to local drought relief headquarters.
The Hubei Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters showed that 900 reservoirs and 132 rivers have been affected by the drought, causing one-third of the province’s farmland to dry up, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The Yangtze River valley is a major rice-producing area and authorities have urged farmers to use water sparingly.
Meanwhile, a number of university students have complained about the lack of air conditioning in dormitories, and are forced to sleep on the roof to escape the heat.
Changsha Medical University in Hunan province has won plaudits for installing air conditioners in two dormitory buildings in 2009; it plans to install a further 3,000 air conditioners during the summer break.
However, some parents complain that students don’t focus on their studies if they are too comfortable and oppose air conditioning.
The heatwave is expected to grip much of China through mid-August.