Eastern China scorched by record heatwave
Parts of central China also affected by worst heat since records began; Several cities issue red alert warnings as temperatures pass 40 degrees
Eastern and parts of central China continued to swelter yesterday in a record-breaking heatwave as weather authorities in several cities issued red alert warnings over soaring temperatures.
In Chongqing, Hangzhou and Yuyao in Zhejiang province temperatures surpassed 40 degrees Celsius for the second consecutive day. Shanghai issued its first red alert since 2009, with temperatures there reaching 39 degrees.
The provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei also sizzled under peak temperatures of 39 degrees.
The continuous heatwave has seen electricity consumption jump dramatically in Hangzhou and Shanghai, placing the cities' power grids under strain.
Cyclists in Hangzhou were forced to improvise with hats, gloves and visors to protect themselves from the scorching sun. The city's swimming pools were also mobbed with people desperate to cool off for a while.
Local TV reported that hundreds of people briefly blocked up a metro station in Qiaosi as they loitered to enjoy the air conditioning underground.
After failing to persuade the crowds to disperse, station staff decided to cut off the power supply in the hallways from 6am to 10pm, citing safety concerns.
That decision fuelled a public debate online yesterday, with some calling for the city government to open up public buildings in the extreme weather conditions to residents who can't afford air conditioning at home.
By contrast, Shanghai metro stations indicated they would tolerate the relief-seeking crowds, but reminded the public not to disrupt the stations operation.
On Wednesday, 13 cities and counties in Zhejiang province registered temperatures higher than 40 degrees.
The highest was in Fenghua in Ningbo , where the mercury rose to 42.7 degrees. In Hangzhou temperatures peaked at 40.4 degrees. Both were setting new records since 1951, when meteorological records began.
Shanghai's high temperature of 38.4 degrees on Tuesday was the highest temperature recorded in the city on that date in 140 years, the Oriental Morning Post reported.
The city has already recorded 16 "high-temperature days" - when the mercury exceeds 35 degrees - in July, the most for three decades.
Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, has had 25 consecutive high-temperature days this month, setting a new record in the city's history.
Chongqing's average daily temperature since June has reached 34 degrees, also its highest since records began, according to the China Meteorological Administration.
The continuous heat wave has also worsened droughts afflicting Hunan and Sichuan provinces, Xinhua reported.