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Heatwave in NE China as downpours hit south
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Abnormal heat has been scorching in China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang as the country's southern provinces are facing continuous downpours.

The provincial capital Harbin, known as the "Ice City", reported on Tuesday an unusually high temperature of 37.1 degrees Celsius, the second highest in the city's history.

The average temperature in Harbin in summer is normally around 20 degrees Celsius,one of the lowest in the country.

Shangzhi, Heihe cities and Sunwu, Huma counties in Heilongjiang reported record high temperatures of above 34 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

The heatwave has given Harbin's air conditioning business a shot in the arm.

"The temperature would probably be higher in July and August, so I decided to buy an air conditioner as soon as possible," said a resident surnamed Luo.

A saleswoman in an electronics store said the sales of fans and air conditioners had risen by 30 percent compared with last June.

Meanwhile, air conditioner maintenance and repair workers were also "extremely busy" over the past days, and iced beer, air-conditioned cafe bars and sunscreen cream have gained popularity among residents.

In the northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the two-month long drought has affected 560,000 hectares of crops, according to the local agricultural department.

"Since more water for irrigation is needed after June, the drought is expected to get worse," said Hong Jiashi, deputy head of the department of hydraulics in Xinjiang.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2008)

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