Heatwave blankets Japan, kills at least 15 people including a P1 schoolboy

A man uses a fan as he walks on a street in Tokyo, Japan, on July 17, 2018.
A man uses a fan as he walks on a street in Tokyo, Japan, on July 17, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS
Men take a rest in front of a pipe spraying mist at a park in Tokyo, Japan, on July 17, 2018.
Men take a rest in front of a pipe spraying mist at a park in Tokyo, Japan, on July 17, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS
A volunteer wipes his sweat as he takes a break in a heat wave at a flood affected area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, on July 14, 2018.
A volunteer wipes his sweat as he takes a break in a heat wave at a flood affected area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, on July 14, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS
A volunteer uses a pack of refrigerant to a cool down as she takes a break in a heat wave at a flood affected area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, on July 14, 2018.
A volunteer uses a pack of refrigerant to a cool down as she takes a break in a heat wave at a flood affected area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, on July 14, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS
Visitors jostle each other at a pool in Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo, Japan, on July 16, 2018.
Visitors jostle each other at a pool in Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo, Japan, on July 16, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Visitors ride a roller coaster at an amusement park in central Tokyo, Japan, on July 15, 2018.
Visitors ride a roller coaster at an amusement park in central Tokyo, Japan, on July 15, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (REUTERS) - A Primary 1 schoolboy in Aichi prefecture, in central Japan, who had complained to his teacher that he was feeling "tired" while on the way to a nearby park for a school activity, died on Tuesday (July 17) due to heatwave.

Five other primary school boys in Tokyo's Shibuya ward were also sent to hospital with signs of minor heat exhaustion during a soccer game.

The intense heatwave has killed at least 15 people since Saturday, media reported on Tuesday (July 17), and high temperatures hampered the recovery in flood-hit areas where more than 200 people died last week.

Temperatures on Monday, a national holiday, surged above 39 deg C in some inland areas and combined with high humidity to produce dangerous conditions, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

Among the dead was also a woman in her 90s who was found unconscious in a field. Thousands more were treated in hospitals for heat-related conditions.

The heat was most intense in landlocked areas such as Gifu prefecture, where it soared to 39.3 deg C in the town of Ibigawa on Monday - the hottest in the nation.

The capital Tokyo recorded a high of 34 deg C on Monday.

Temperatures in parts of western Japan hit by deadly floods reached a high of 34.3 deg C by midday on Tuesday, creating dangerous conditions for military personnel and volunteers clearing mud and debris.

"It's really hot. All we can do is keep drinking water," one man in Okayama told NHK television.

Temperatures of 35 deg C or above - known in Japanese as "intensely hot days" - were recorded at 200 locations around Japan on Sunday, the JMA said, which is unusual for July but not unprecedented.

Similar scorching temperatures were reported from 213 locations on a July day in 2014.

Last year, 48 people died from heat between May and September, with 31 deaths in July, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

The current heatwave was due to the layering of two high pressure systems over much of Japan and is expected to continue for the rest of the week, if not longer, the JMA said.

Additional reporting by Walter Sim