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Extreme heatwave in Southeast Asia

Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha Agence France-Presse A worker carries blocks of ice at a fresh produce market on a hot day in Bangkok, April 18, 2024.

Cécil Morella – Agence France-Presse to Manila

Posted at 10:42 a.m.

  • Asia

An extreme heatwave in Southeast Asia has closed thousands of schools in the Philippines, confined Thais to their homes and sent Muslim worshipers praying for rain in Bangladesh.

April is considered one of the hottest months in these countries, but this year the heatwave is exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which causes outbreaks mercury close to records.

In Asia, the impact of heat waves is becoming more and more severe, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stressed in a press release on Tuesday. The year 2023 was the hottest on record worldwide.

On Wednesday, authorities in the Philippines advised the population not to venture outside.

« It's so hot that you can't breathe,” says Erlin Tumaron, 60, who works in a seaside resort in the north of the Philippines, where the temperature reached 47°C on Tuesday.

The felt temperatures — taking into account, in addition to the temperature, different meteorological factors, such as wind or humidity — were expected to reach 42 ° C or more on Wednesday in at least 30 cities and municipalities in the Philippines.

The Department of Education said that nearly 6,700 schools had suspended face-to-face classes on Wednesday.

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Workers on the verge of fainting

In Thailand, millions of residents of the capital Bangkok were asked to stay at home on Wednesday, due to a heat index deemed “extremely dangerous”.

“Please refrain from spending time outdoors,” alerted the Bangkok Municipality (BMA) on Facebook.

The national meteorological institute predicts heat reaching 39°C on Wednesday in the capital.

In this metropolis of ten million inhabitants, a mecca for world tourism, the temperatures could rise further in the coming days.

Workers forced to stay outside, such as scooter delivery people or food sellers, try to stay in the shade and drink to survive in these conditions, made worse by air pollution.

“Sometimes I feel dizzy, but not to the point of passing out,” explains Buppha Nakhin, who sells grilled meatballs on a sidewalk in central Bangkok.

“I feel like I'm going to faint when I work outside, but I have no choice,” adds Boonsri Waenkaew, motorbike taxi.

Pray for rain

In Bangladesh, thousands of Muslim faithful decided to pray for rain on Wednesday in mosques and countryside across the country, where schools were closed until the end of the month.

< p> “Praying for rain is a tradition of our prophet,” Muhammad Abu Yusuf, an imam, told AFP after his morning prayer in front of a thousand worshipers in central Dhaka.

“Life has become unbearable because of the lack of rain,” he pointed out. “The poor suffer enormously.”

Temperatures reached over 42°C last week in this country. According to the weather service, average maximum temperatures in the capital Dhaka this week were 4-5°C higher than the 30-year average over the same period.

“This month of April was one of the hottest since independence” in 1971, Tariful Newaz Kabir, a meteorologist, told AFP.

Hospitals in the southern coastal district of Patuakhali have reported local outbreaks of diarrhea due to rising temperatures and increased salinity in local water sources, said to AFP the state doctor, Bhupen Chandra Mondal.

“The number of diarrhea patients is very high this year,” he continued, concluding that “all of this is linked to climate change.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116