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July 30, 2013

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Extreme heat kills 2 as Shanghai heads for hottest July on record

Shanghai’s extreme heat has claimed two lives in the past few days as the city heads for its hottest July in 140 years.

As of yesterday, the city had recorded 23 days with the mercury hitting 35 degrees Celsius and above this month.

The maximum temperature was 39.1 degrees yesterday, marking the seventh consecutive day the mercury has risen above 38 degrees, a record since the city began recording temperatures in 1873.

The last time Shanghai had 23 days of high temperatures in July was in 1934.

The temperature is forecast to reach 39 degrees today and tomorrow, the last two days of July, the city’s weather bureau said.

The heat wave is showing no signs of abating, and temperatures may exceed 40 degrees again in early August, the bureau said.

Strong, stable subtropical high pressure and the absence of typhoons contributed to the record weather, it added.

“It’s rare to see so many consecutive high temperature days in July,” said Kong Chunyan, a chief service officer at the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. According to statistics since 2001, the number of hot days in August should be six fewer than this month, Kong said.

Two people died at Minhang District’s medical center on Saturday from heat stroke, doctors said yesterday. They were a 63-year-old woman and a 51-year-old man.

They were among seven people rushed to the Minhang District Central Hospital from Friday to yesterday.

Four of them were taken to the hospital yesterday, including a 62-year-old man surnamed Luo. Luo fainted at a bus stop and another citizen rushed him to the hospital where doctors found his temperature was off the thermometer scale.

Doctors are warning the elderly and those with a weak constitution to stay in air-conditioned rooms as electric fans are insufficient to keep people cool in such hot temperatures.

Some hospitals in the city received more than 15,000 patients each yesterday, an unusually big number. A sharp rise in patients is being seen in dermatology, respiratory and pediatric departments.

Xinhua Hospital is opening for registrations at 6am compared to the usual 7:30am and is also adding services at night to cope with the increased numbers of people seeking help.

The Shanghai Rescue Station said it had received an average of 41 homeless people a day this month, a 10 percent rise compared to January to June.

The rest of the country is also sizzling. By yesterday, 19 provinces and cities in China, or about a third of the country’s territory, were experiencing high-temperature days.

Many cities in Hunan Province also endured record high temperatures this month. The provincial capital Changsha reported temperatures at or above 35 degrees Celsius in all of the past 29 days.

The province received over 70 percent less rain than normal, leaving 33 counties and cities suffering severe drought.

Hot weather in the week ahead, when temperatures could rise to 41 degrees in Hunan’s central and eastern parts, could worsen the drought situation, the provincial forecasters said.

Turpan City in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region recorded a high of 44.3 degrees yesterday, making it the country’s hottest city.



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