Southern China wilts under heat wave

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An extended and deadly heat wave is cooking the southern parts of China, with temperatures hitting record highs in seven provinces and regions on Tuesday.

A boy cooks an egg and shrimp on a manhole cover in a road in Jinan, Shandong province, on Wednesday. Many cities around China are suffering sweltering heat, and experts say the situation will continue until mid-August. [Photo / Zheng Tao / for China Daily]

Since early July, dozens of people nationwide have died from heat-related health problems. With temperatures in most areas of the south forecast to pass 35 C and possibly 40 C, the China Meteorological Administration issued the second-highest national heat alert on Tuesday.

The highest alert has never been issued.

"About 19 provinces and regions are experiencing scorching heat, covering more than 3 million square kilometers, almost a third of the country," said He Lifu, chief weather forecaster at the National Meteorological Center.

How hot has it been? As many micro blog posts and TV reports have shown, it has literally been hot enough to fry an egg on the street. On Wednesday, several people successfully cooked eggs, fish and bacon on street pavements and other surfaces.

In Xiaoshan, Zhejiang province, the mercury hit 42.2 C on Tuesday, a historic high.

"The hot days are mainly caused by a strong Pacific subtropical high, an important atmospheric circulation system influencing the summer climate in China," said Sun Leng, senior engineer for the China Meteorological Administration’s Climate Data Center.

But don’t expect a cooldown. Satellite images on Wednesday from the Climate Data Center indicate that the hot weather will continue until at least mid-August.

For Guo Renping, July was a nightmare. The 55-year-old worker in Chongqing worked eight-hour shifts for 20 of the 31 days this past month that experienced temperatures higher than 35 C.

Every day, Guo, sorted and transferred garbage at a waste landfill. Every day about 2,000 metric tons of waste is delivered to the landfill. Ground temperatures in that area of the city reached 50 C in July.

"I cannot bear to work in such hot weather for eight hours every day," said Guo, who added that he was paid a heat-related subsidy by the garbage company.


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