Large swathes of Asia sweltering with record temperatures

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Temperature records are being broken across Asian countries as a brutal April heatwave continues to affect large swaths of the continent, with little relief in sight.

In Southeast Asia, some countries recorded their highest temperatures on record this week, while scorching heat in the Indian subcontinent has killed more than a dozen people.

Laos is the latest country to set a new all-time record, with Luang Prabang reaching 42.7°C (109°F) on Tuesday. seconds to the historian of the time Maximiliano Herrera.

Over the weekend, Thailand exceeded 45°C (113°F) for the first time in its history. seconds in Herrera, using data from the Thai Meteorological Department. The northwestern city of Tak reached 45.4C on Saturday, but large parts of the country have been in the 30s and 40s since late March.

Earlier this month, Thai authorities issued a health alert for several provinces as the heat index was forecast to reach 50.2°C in the Bang Na district of the capital Bangkok. The heat index is what the temperature “feels like” and takes into account both the temperature and humidity of the air to measure its impact.

On Tuesday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed concern about “dangerously high temperatures in several parts of Thailand,” saying that in the Bang Na area of ​​Bangkok, temperatures “could reach 52, 3 °C”, according to a press release from the Prime Ministers. office

Neighboring Myanmar set an April temperature record on Monday as Kalewa in the central Sagaing region hit 44C (111F), Herrera tweeted.

April and May are usually the hottest months of the year for South and Southeast Asia, as temperatures rise before the monsoon rains begin and bring some relief.

But the heat in Thailand has been exacerbated by a heavy smog season that has caused pollution levels to rise.

The northern tourist hotspot of Chiang Mai was ranked as the world’s most polluted city for seven days in a row as smoke from forest fires and widespread crop burning worsened air quality. At least one hospital in the city said it had reached “full ward capacity” as patients sought medical treatment for respiratory problems.

Scorching temperatures have also become widespread across China.

On Tuesday, the country saw temperatures as high as 42.4°C (108°F) in Yuanyang in the southeast, just 0.3°C off the national record in April, Herrera said.

On Monday, more than 100 weather stations in 12 provinces broke the April temperature record. seconds to climatologist Jim Yang.

Although not record breaking in most cases, the heat has also been prevalent – and deadly – in South Asia. For many days, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh have seen temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F).

According to the India Meteorological Department, 48 weather stations recorded temperatures above 42°C on Tuesday, with the highest at 44.2°C in the eastern state of Odisha.

In the western state of Maharashtra, at least 13 people died of heatstroke after attending a state awards ceremony on Sunday. More than 1 million people attended the event in Navi Mumbai and 50-60 people were hospitalised, according to a city police official.

Meanwhile, at least two states, Tripura in the northeast and West Bengal in the east, ordered schools closed this week as temperatures soared more than 5 degrees Celsius above normal, state governments said. Reuters. reported.

India’s Ministry of Labor issued an advisory to all states and regions to ensure the safety of workers, especially outdoor workers and miners, in the extreme heat. This includes providing adequate drinking water, emergency ice packs, and frequent breaks.

A rickshaw puller splashes water on his face to cool off during a heat wave in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 16.

Heatwaves in India usually occur between March and July, but in recent years these heatwaves have become more intense, more frequent and longer.

Last year, India experienced a scorching heat wave, with parts of the country reaching over 49°C (120°F). As the impacts of the human-caused climate crisis accelerate and global temperatures continue to rise, scientists say heat waves will only become more common.

A 2022 study found that dangerous heat waves will be three to ten times more frequent by the turn of the century.

In the tropics, which span much of Asia, people could be exposed to dangerous heat most days of the year, the study found. Days of “extremely dangerous heat” – defined as 51°C (124°F) – could double and experts say these heat levels exceed the limits of human survival.

Extremely warm temperatures in South and Southeast Asia are expected to continue. Meanwhile, there are cooler conditions across much of China as temperatures are forecast to fall from around 10°C (18°F) above average to 10°C (18°F) below average this weekend.

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