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Deadly heat sweeps north, east

PEOPLE wearing protection against the sun rush along the street, buses have their air conditioners cranked up, and everybody does their best to minimize the time spent outside.

That's how it went yesterday in much of north and east China, as a deadly heat wave persisted with temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius in many areas. According to the Central Meteorological Center, the scorching weather will not end until cold air sweeps from north to south on Sunday.

Four elderly people died this week because of the heat in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province.

The Zhengzhou Emergency Medical Rescue Center said that it received 66 calls for heatstroke cases in the past four days.

The city's temperature reached a record high of 41.9 degrees on Wednesday, the city's meteorological station said.

The temperature in Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, hit 35 degrees, the highest so far this summer and well above the northern city's average summer temperature of 29 degrees Celsius.

In Jinan, capital of Shandong Province in the east, several primary schools suspended classes yesterday.

Those that stayed open offered cold drinks to students as the temperature hit 40.8 degrees on Wednesday.

In a zoo in the northern city of Tianjin, keepers have done their best to cool off the animals. As the temperature hit 39.7 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, the zoo, which holds about 2,000 animals, provided nearly a ton of ice, a ton of fruit and 300 buckets of mung bean soup to help the animals beat the heat.

The city has sweltered through five days with temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius this summer, compared with only four for all of 2008. Today's high is expected to hit 38 degrees.

In the ancient city of Xi'an in the northwest, an air-raid shelter was opened yesterday for residents seeking to cool off. The temperature in the shelter was about 23 degrees Celsius, compared with 38 degrees outside.

The hot weather has led to a peak in electricity consumption in many northern cities.

And power use in east China's Anhui Province hit a record 284 million kilowatt-hours yesterday, up 3 percent from last year's peak, according to the Anhui Power Company.


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