Rain brings relief in Beijing as scorching heatwave persists for 18th day

Heatwave makes life miserable in much of mainland's central and eastern regions, with drinking water shortages in Hunan, Jiangxi

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 5:50am

The relentless summer sun prompted national meteorological authorities yesterday to issue their highest weather alert for intense heat for the 18th straight day, while torrential rainfall battered Beijing and forced the cancellation of at least 130 flights in the capital.

The notice extends the longest stretch of consecutive days with a heat warning since the National Meteorological Centre started issuing them in 2007.

Hebei , Tianjin and Shanxi also saw rain bring a bit of relief yesterday, but a heatwave continued to scorch central and eastern regions of the country, with the mercury topping 40 degrees Celsius in Zhejiang , Jiangsu and Anhui .

Sun Jun, chief forecaster at the centre, was quoted by as saying that there had been consecutive alerts during heatwaves in past years, but never for this long.

"The ongoing heatwave is unprecedented in terms of the area affected, its intensity and duration," he said.

Lightning killed a sanitation worker at Beijing Capital International Airport yesterday, and more than 100 flights were delayed, in addition to those cancelled. The worker was found dead on the tarmac, with his uniform in tatters and a mobile phone beside him, The Beijing News reported.

The deluge lowered temperatures, but meteorologists expected muggy weather to persist after the storm. Additional storms are expected throughout the week.

Adding to the discomfort, the Beijing Times reported that high temperatures and humidity have led to the re-emergence of bloodsucking bedbugs in the city. The bugs have been rare in Beijing in recent years, but municipal disease-control authorities said more than 10 people had reported being bitten recently.

Six municipalities, including Shanghai and Chongqing , have seen temperatures top 40 degrees since the beginning of July. Changsha has been the hottest, with 51 days recording temperatures at or above 35 degrees, according to officials.

And the temperature reached 40 degrees every day last week in Zhejiang's Hangzhou .

In Wuhan , the capital of Hubei, five people have died from heatstroke since the start of the summer. It's the city's first summer in three years to have seen heat-related deaths.

There were even reports that a 200-year-old willow tree in Wuhan spontaneously combusted on Saturday, according to the Wuhan Evening News. The tree suffered some damage before firefighters doused the flames.

The heat intensified drought conditions in central and eastern provinces, and millions of people in Hunan and Jiangxi were hit by a shortage of drinking water. The drought has spread to more than 75 per cent of Hunan, drying up 3,000 streams and 2,000 reservoirs. The heatwave is expected to continue in most central and eastern regions of the country through next weekend.