Heatwave Grips South and Southeast Asia, Prompting School Closures and Warnings

Wed Apr 24 2024
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MANILA: Extreme heat scorched parts of South and Southeast Asia Wednesday, leading to school closures, heat warnings, and prayers for rain amidst the relentless heatwave. Schools across the Philippines suspended classes; whereas, heat warnings were issued in the Thai capital and worshippers in Bangladesh prayed for rain.

In the Philippines, where the mercury soared to a scorching 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) in Cavite province, residents grappled with oppressive conditions. Erlin Tumaron, 60, described the suffocating heat, lamenting the reluctance of people to venture outdoors even to seek respite in swimming pools.

The Philippine Department of Education announced the suspension of in-person classes in nearly 6,700 schools as the heat index approached dangerous levels, with forecasts indicating a likelihood of intensifying heat in the coming days.

Ana Solis, chief climatologist at the state weather forecaster, emphasized the necessity of precautions such as limiting outdoor activities, staying hydrated, and using protective gear like umbrellas and hats.

Climate Change Impact on Southeast Asia

The situation mirrors a broader trend identified by the United Nations, which recently highlighted Asia as the region most affected by climate and weather-related disasters in 2023. The World Meteorological Organization’s report underscores the alarming pace of warming in Asia, with temperatures rising nearly two degrees Celsius above the long-term average.

WMO officials warn of the escalating threat posed by extreme heat, citing its status as a silent but deadly killer. Ko Barrett, WMO Deputy Secretary-General, stressed the under-reporting of heat-related mortality, indicating a gap in understanding the true extent of its impact.

In Bangladesh, where temperatures have soared well above historical averages, thousands gathered in Dhaka to pray for rain as authorities closed schools nationwide due to the extreme heatwave.

Similar conditions prevail in India, where severe heatwave conditions are forecasted in eastern and southern states. Meanwhile, in Bangkok, Thai authorities issued an extreme heat warning as temperatures surged, urging citizens to stay indoors for their safety.


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