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July 12, 2017

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Forecasters issue heatwave warning

WEATHER forecasters are warning of a heatwave expanding from north China to central and eastern regions over the next few days.

Temperatures in parts of Hebei, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Xinjiang hit 42 degrees Celsius earlier this week, the National Meteorological Center said, and maximum temperatures broke records across Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Xinjiang.

The center says that when the heatwave expands southward, temperatures in central and east China will reach their highest this year.

It is warning the public to be sure to take precautions against the heat and urging flood-stricken areas in south China to enhance hygiene and disease control efforts.

On Monday, Turpan prefecture in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region saw its hottest day since local records began, with the air temperature at 5pm hitting 48.7 degrees. Temperatures in Turpan have exceeded 40 degrees for 13 straight days but the weather is expected to cool off by Friday.

Surface temperatures are far higher than air temperatures, and at the Mountain of Flames scenic zone in Turpan, it surpassed 88 degrees on Monday.

Some traffic police officers complained that their shoes were cracking due to the heat and their patrols were cut to 15 minutes from an hour previously.

Tourists, however, seem to be attracted by the hot weather rather than being intimidated by it. Currently, the Mountain of Flames is receiving 3,000 visitors a day.

At a “sand therapy” center in Turpan, Li Junfeng was digging a hole in the sand to bury himself. Some believe that sand baked in the sun can alleviate pain from arthritis and osteoporosis and he had made the journey from central China’s Henan Province to take “the cure.” “The hot compress really works. It is my fourth trip here,” he said.

In Shanghai, an alert was issued yesterday for temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.

Despite the sweltering weather, outdoor work does not stop.

Ye Lingxun, a worker at a construction site in Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui Province, was busy setting up scaffolding yesterday afternoon when the temperature rose above 33 degrees.

His company offered workers watermelon and mung bean soup to make them feel cooler, and allowed them a break from 11am to 3pm.

“The pipes are really hot, like some 50 degrees. But the soup made me comfortable,” Ye said. To his delight, a new air conditioner in his dormitory has brought him a sound sleep at night.

Wu Xueming, a garbage collector in his 60s, is not as lucky. Wu can barely sleep in his small rented home, mostly occupied by garbage, in Kaifeng, a city in central China’s Henan Province.

These days, he is working 10 hours a day. Wu can’t afford an air conditioner, or even a decent lunch. He only eats steamed buns during work.

“I looked for a factory job, but they don’t want me because I’m old,” Wu said.

He gives all his income, around 400 yuan (US$59) a month, to his son’s family who have just moved to Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province.

“They don’t lead an easy life, and I just hope they can be happy,” he said.


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