AP PHOTOS: South and Southeast Asian countries cope with a weekslong heat wave

South and Southeast Asian countries have been coping with a weekslong heat wave rendering record high temperatures that have posed a severe health risk.

Umbrellas to shield against blazing sunlight are popular, air-conditioned malls are serving as urban oases, and schools in Cambodia have been cutting back their hours. In the Philippines, India and Bangladesh, officials have told students to stay home and do their lessons remotely.

In April, the United Nations Children’s Fund warned that the sweltering weather could put millions of children’s lives at risk and asked caregivers to take extra precautions.

A UNICEF statement said that in the Asia-Pacific region, “around 243 million children are exposed to hotter and longer heatwaves, putting them at risk of a multitude of heat-related illnesses, and even death.”

The advice everywhere for everyone? Avoid outdoor activities and drink plenty of water.

Meteorologists in Cambodia say the country is facing its hottest temperatures in 170 years, reaching as high as 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit).

In Myanmar, weather experts said some parts of the country experienced record high temperatures in the past week. Several towns were included on lists of the hottest spots worldwide in April, in at least one case surpassing 48.2 C (118.8 F).

Parts of eastern India experienced their hottest April on record as a heat wave scorched the region amid a general election.

The recorded highs reflect only air temperature, the historical measure for hot and cold weather. They don’t factor in the debilitating effects of humidity, which can make it feel even hotter.

The Thai capital Bangkok has touched 40 C (104 F), but the heat index reportedly topped 50 C (122 F).

Cities such as Bangkok constitute urban heat islands, where the temperatures are hotter than in the surrounding countryside because of the mass of buildings and concrete that trap and retain heat.

Benjamin Horton, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore where natural phenomena such as climate change are studied, said there are three causal factors for heat waves: El Nino, a naturally occurring climate phenomenon; an increase in global temperatures; and human-induced climate change.


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