Sweltering heatwave to hit a third of China

In Shanghai, soaring temperatures have prompted the conversion of 318 senior activity centres in the Jing'an area into free cooling spots for elderly residents to avoid the heat outside. Among the cooling measures - serving slices of watermelon to re
In Shanghai, soaring temperatures have prompted the conversion of 318 senior activity centres in the Jing'an area into free cooling spots for elderly residents to avoid the heat outside. Among the cooling measures - serving slices of watermelon to residents.PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • As many as 21 provinces and regions in China are baking under a scorching heatwave even as the south reels from devastating floods which have killed at least 50 people and forced 1.6 million to flee their homes.

The heatwave will extend from northern China to the central and eastern regions in the coming three days, reported Chinese state media.

As much as one-third of China's land mass will be affected.

Maximum temperatures in 31 counties and cities in Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi and Sichuan have hit record highs.

Xi'an in Shaanxi saw ground temperatures hitting as high as 50 deg C on Monday, according to a report on news portal Sina.

Temperatures at Xinjiang's Turpan Flaming Mountain, or Huo Yan Shan as it is famously known in the Chinese literature classic Journey To The West, have been above 40 deg C for the past 13 days, reported state media.

The city of Turpan saw temperatures hitting a historic high of 49 deg C on Monday, while the township of Erbaoxiang saw the mercury rising above the 50 deg C mark.

Apart from the Xinjiang region, Shaanxi, Gansu and Hebei provinces have experienced many days of extreme heat, with temperatures hovering between 35 and 41 deg C.

The southern parts of the country, which were battered by summer floods recently, will also be experiencing very hot weather that could last from four to nine days, said Mr Sun Jun, chief weather forecaster of the National Meteorological Centre.

Some places, such as Beijing, may get some relief this weekend, with temperatures forecast to drop below 35 deg C.

While the heatwave is making people feel uncomfortable, it is not particularly severe compared with other years, like in 2013, Mr Sun added.

Mr Gu Chengdong, deputy director of the emergency department at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, warns the young and old to avoid or cut down on outdoor activities. He suggests reducing time outdoors, especially during the hottest time of the day from 10am to 3pm. Heatstroke can happen when the body temperature hits 40 deg C and may lead to organ failure.

In Shanghai, soaring temperatures have prompted the conversion of 318 senior activity centres in the Jing'an area into free cooling spots for elderly residents to avoid the heat outside.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'Sweltering heatwave to hit a third of China'. Print Edition | Subscribe