Northeast Asia Suffers Under Severe Heat Wave

By: Posted By Jovarie Downing
By: Posted By Jovarie Downing

Hong Kong (CNN) -- For countries in Northeast Asia, this summer is becoming too hot to bear.

A Japanese city has experienced the highest temperature ever recorded in the country.

The South Korean government is clamping down on the use of air-conditioning in an attempt to stave off power shortages.

And Shanghai has been sweltering under a record-setting run of baking hot days.

The searing temperatures have brought a spike in heat-related deaths, as well as harming crops and livestock.

As record temperatures hit China, an Ikea store in Beijing has seen a surge in interest from citizens looking for air-conditioning, comfortable sofas and a good nap. Shanghai experienced its hottest July in 140 years with temperatures as high as 40.8 C. At least 10 Shanghai residents have reportedly died from heat stroke this summer. To give you an idea how hot China is right now -- Shanghai Television grilled a piece of raw pork belly on a marble floor under the sun. The pork belly was medium-well done after 10 minutes. And Shanghai is not the hottest city in China. China Weather TV, the state-approved 24-hour weather channel in China, just released a new list of the hottest cities in China. Fuzhou, a city in Southeast China, topped the chart with the temperature passing 35 C for 32 days of the year. Shanghai ranked 16 in the list. People in recent days have stayed indoors whenever possible, where it's typically air-conditioned. "Malls are full, swimming pools and water parks are packed, taxis are hard to find because residents take taxis rather than walk even if it's just two blocks," Shanghai-based executive Felix Gonzalez tells CNN. "Many people order take outs and eat at home or in the work place. Lots of watermelon is thrown around. In our office, we offer a cooling station, fruit baskets and ice cream too." Residents who live in old neighborhoods in houses without air-conditioning seek refuge in malls and other air-conditioned public places. "I've seen men half-naked, sprinkling water on their heads and faces, or dipping towels in water to cover their heads," said Gonzales. Ikea's latest mattress commercial? "You can only feel the comfort when you lie down," says the sign in Chinese. This "customer" needed no further invitation. Some provinces in China have fired rain-dispersal rockets, which create artificial rain, to combat continual high temperatures and dry weather. Another citizen seeks refuge from the heat for an afternoon nap. Communal living has never been as celebrated as in the Beijing Ikea. There's a reason display items are sold cheaper. Chinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaChinese cool down in IkeaHIDE CAPTION<<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 >>>
Gallery: Chinese flock to IKEA to escape heatwave A new record

In Japan, of the 52 deaths from heatstroke nationwide between late May and early August, nearly one third of them occurred last week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

On Monday, the temperature reached 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in Shimanto in southern Japan, setting a new national record, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

The agency issued a heat alert covering 37 of Japan's 47 prefectures on Tuesday, warning that the high temperatures are expected to continue for about a week in western, central and southern parts of the country.

Looming energy crisis

The hot weather has come at a bad time for South Korea, putting a severe strain on the country's struggling power grid. The energy supply was already suffering from technical problems, including the shutdown of some nuclear reactors.

Officials have warned of an imminent energy crisis.

To try to prevent shortages, authorities on Monday ordered sweltering workers in government offices to turn off the air-conditioning and avoid using elevators.

The order came two days after the city of Gimhae clocked a temperature of 39.2 degrees Celsius (102.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest in South Korea in more than a decade.

Read: South Korean women take to 'refrigerator pants' to beat the heat

The Korea Meteorological Administration on Tuesday issued a fresh heat wave warning -- which means the maximum temperature is expected to be above 35 Celsius for more than two days -- for large areas of the country.

Weeks of heat

Parts of China, meanwhile, have been dealing with unusually high temperatures for weeks.

iReport: Heatwave scorches Shanghai

After sweating through its hottest July in at least 140 years, Shanghai last week experienced four consecutive days during which the thermometer went above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), state media reported. That's the first time the sprawling city of 23 million inhabitants has had a run of temperatures that high, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

China's National Meteorological Center on Tuesday issued its second-highest heat alert for central and southern parts of the country -- the 20th day in a row that it's issued an alert of that level, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

But the agency also offered some hope of a reprieve for heat-weary citizens.

It predicted that "the intensity of the heat and the regions it affects will gradually dwindle over the next three days," Xinhua reported.

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