China heatwave: Dozens of cities issue warnings as temperatures soar

China heatwave: Dozens of cities issue warnings as temperatures soar
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A red alert means temperatures are expected to reach over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the next 24 hours, according to the national weather agency.

Authorities have also issued warnings for regions ranging from the central province of Shaanxi to the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu. Temperatures could also rise above 40 degrees Celsius in Zhejiang, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces on Wednesday, according to the Central Meteorological Observatory.

Temperatures have been rising for several days, with Shanghai going on red alert for the first time this year as the financial hub sweltered in 40 degrees Celsius, according to state tabloid The Global Times on Sunday.

Shanghai has seen just 15 days with temperatures above 40 degrees since records began in 1873, the Shanghai Meteorological Service said on Sunday.

Vendors in the city reported increasing sales of ice cream, melons and crayfish chilled in spirits – a popular summer dish. A sprawling wildlife park in Shanghai uses eight tons of ice a day to keep lions, pandas and other animals cool.

Other parts of the country, such as places in the southwestern Sichuan Basin, have also experienced record temperatures this year, according to The Global Times.

Children cool off at a fountain on a hot day on July 12 in Nanning, China.

In the city of Chongqing – which has issued a red alert – the roof of a museum melted, cracking traditional Chinese bricks as the heat dissolved the tar underneath. The city has used trucks to spray water to cool its streets.

Elsewhere, residents try various ways to cool off. Huge crowds flocked to the beach from the city of Qingdao in eastern Shandong Province on Sunday to take a dip in the sea. Children in Nanning, Guangxi region, played barefoot in public fountains. In Nanjing, Jiangsu province, residents instead made their way to an air-raid shelter to escape the heat, read newspapers and watched TV to while away the time in Wi-Fi-equipped war bunkers.

Residents in Nanjing, China, enter a bomb shelter to escape the heat on July 10.

In its statement, the Central Meteorological Observatory urged local officials to implement measures to prevent heatstroke and fires. Residents should avoid outdoor activities and take protective measures – especially young people, the elderly and those with health conditions, he added.

China’s summer of contrasts this year has wreaked havoc with both heat waves and heavy rains. Authorities citing climate change have warned of disasters beginning in mid-July, usually the hottest and wettest time of the year.

Parts of southern China were hit by the last month heaviest downpours in 60 years, with nearly half a million people affected by floods and landslides in southern Guangdong Province. More than 177,000 people had to move, and many households saw their homes and crops destroyed.

China’s annual flooding season traditionally begins in June and is usually worst in the densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries – but it has become more intense and dangerous in recent years, and experts have warned climate change could make the situation worse.

Additional coverage from Reuters.

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