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April Heatwave Breaks Records Across Asia, Claiming Lives and Prompting School Closure

CRISIS - Viability of Life on Earth by Martina Igini Asia Apr 21st 20232 mins
April Heatwave Breaks Records Across Asia, Claiming Lives and Prompting School Closure

A historic April heatwave has brought extreme temperatures to large swaths of India, China, Thailand, and Laos, claiming at least a dozen lives and prompting authorities to issue health warnings and close schools.

At least one-third of the world’s population is currently experiencing severe heat that has broken records across much of Asia, killing at least a dozen people in the Indian subcontinent and prompting school closures in some states. 

The deadly heatwave, which climatologist and weather historian Maximiliano Herrera described as the “worst April heatwave in Asia’s history”, spans more than 12 countries across the continent and has already broken records, with several Southeast Asian countries posting their highest-ever recorded temperatures this week. 

An all-time temperature record for any time of year was set three days in a row in Phong Sa Ly, Laos, with the mercury reaching 94F (34.5C) on Thursday. Last Sunday, Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka saw its highest temperature in 63 years.

Thailand’s capital Bangkok also topped out at 104F (40C), a new record for April. In the northern province of Tak, temperatures topped 114F (45.5C), breaking the country’s all-time high temperature record and prompting authorities to issue health warnings, especially for construction workers and farmers who work outdoors for long hours every day.

The Indian Ministry of Labor also issued an advisory to all states and regions to ensure the safety of workers in the extreme heat, while authorities in the states of Tripura in the northeast and West Bengal in the east ordered schools to shut down this week.

Exactly a year ago, India and Pakistan were battling through a record-smashing heatwave that IPCC Lead Author and Senior Researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Dr. Chandni Singh, said was “definitely unprecedented” and that affected more than a billion people. China also experienced an abnormal summer season in 2022, with high temperatures threatening cotton crops and causing trouble for the national power grid as demand for electricity to power air conditioning systems in homes, offices, and factories across the country skyrocketed.

While these climate change-vulnerable nations are used to heatwaves this time of the year, scientists have no doubt that global warming has made them more frequent, intense, and longer in recent years. According to the World Weather Attribution, last year’s record-breaking temperatures were made at least 30 times more likely by human-induced climate change.

You might also like: Climate Change Made Deadly Indian Heatwave 30-100 Times More Likely

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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