Heat waves in dozens of Chinese cities cause road jams and crack roof tiles

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s commercial capital Shanghai and dozens of other Chinese cities have experienced scorching temperatures as unusually hot weather causes roads to twist, roof tiles crackle and people scavenge for coolness in underground raid shelters.

By 3 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, 86 cities had issued red alerts, the highest in a three-tiered warning system, warning of temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the next 24 hours. Construction and other external work must be halted.

Shanghai, still sporadically battling an outbreak of the coronavirus, told its 25 million residents to prepare for hot weather this week after it issued its first red alert in five years on Sunday. Since record keeping began in 1873, temperatures in Shanghai have been above 40°C for only 15 days.

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In a photo posted on social media, a COVID health worker in a hazmat suit hugs a 1-meter (3-foot) piece of ice on the road.

“This year, the heat has arrived a little earlier than before,” said Zhou Daren, a Shanghai resident, as her five-year-old son played at a water fountain.

“Even though it’s only July, I feel like the warm weather has already peaked. Basically, you need to turn on the air conditioner when you get home and put some sunscreen on when you go out.”

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State TV showed that in a town in southern Jiangxi province, part of the road appeared to be arched by at least 15 cm (6 inches) due to the heat.

Nanjing, one of China’s three “kilns” famous for its hot summers, has opened its underground air-raid shelters to residents since Sunday, with its wartime fortified bunkers stocked with Wi-Fi, books, water dispensers and even microwaves.

The city issued a red alert on Tuesday.

In Chongqing, the second “kiln,” the ceiling of a museum literally melted, and traditional Chinese roof tiles appeared when heat melted the tar behind them. The city called a red alert on Monday.

Chongqing also deployed sewage spray trucks to keep roads cool.

This week, high temperatures, humidity and UV rays are also expected to envelop the central city of Wuhan, the third furnace, as it is called.

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(Additional reporting by Albee Zhang and Ryan Wu in Beijing and Zhihao Jiang in Shanghai; Editing by Louise Heavens, Clarence Fernandez and Emilia Sithole Mataris

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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