Heat waves hit millions in the inhabited Yangtze River Basin in China

  • Over 90 red alerts have been issued across China for high temperatures
  • Shanghai issues rare red alerts for the city
  • Hot weather has begun to return to central China

BEIJING (Reuters) – Severe heat waves swept through China’s vast Yangtze River basin on Wednesday, pummeling densely populated megacities from Shanghai on the coast to Chengdu deep in the heart.

More than 90 red alerts, the most severe in the three-degree warning system, were active across China as of 3:30 p.m. (0730 GMT), most of them in the Yangtze River Basin, which stretches for nearly 2,000 km ( 1200 miles).

Shanghai, China’s commercial capital, issued its second red alert in four days, warning of temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Construction and other outdoor activities need to be scaled back or even halted under a red alert, which is historically rare for a city of 25 million people.

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China is preparing for a particularly brutal summer this year, from scorching heat waves to prolonged torrential rain. Cities south of the Yangtze River in particular were hit by extreme temperatures and record rainfall.

“The summer in Nanjing has never been hotter this year than previous years,” said a 77-year-old retiree in a city of more than 9 million people near Shanghai.

“The sun burns most of the day.”

The hashtag #heatstroke has been trending on social media with 2.45 million views on the Weibo platform for discussions ranging from people being hospitalized to the harmful effects of long-term heat exposure.

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Zhejiang province south of Shanghai issued a record 51 red alert in one day, with local media reporting people hospitalized with or even dying from heatstroke.

‘lunch steamer’

In Chengdu, the capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, a scheduled outage and an improvement in its network this week coincided with warm weather, prompting loud protests from some of its 21 million residents on social media.

“This is a widespread blackout,” said one netizen on Weibo.

“The power supply to the population cannot be guaranteed. Nobody is doing anything about it.”

In the city of Yanjin, also in southwest China, temperatures reached 44 degrees Celsius on Monday, the highest since records began in 1959, state television reported late Tuesday.

Heat waves also began to return to central China after a wave of rain led to a wave of hot weather.

In Henan province, train maintenance workers were cleaning and checking air conditioners on top of trains passing through its capital, Zhengzhou, the transportation hub in central China.

Wang Mian, a train maintenance worker, said the highest temperature he had ever experienced on the roof of a train was 79 degrees Celsius.

“Here, it’s so hot, it’s like a pot of steaming food,” Wang told state TV.

“Our clothes are wet every day, and sometimes never dry.”

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(Additional reporting by Ryan Wu, Alby Zhang, and Bernard Orr); Additional reporting from the Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Louise Heavens and Edwina Gibbs

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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