Extreme Heatwave Grips South and Southeast Asia, Forcing School Closures and Health Warnings

Scorching heatwave sweeps across South and Southeast Asia, forcing school closures and raising health concerns amid climate change impacts.

Salman Akhtar
New Update
Extreme Heatwave Grips South and Southeast Asia, Forcing School Closures and Health Warnings

Extreme Heatwave Grips South and Southeast Asia, Forcing School Closures and Health Warnings

A heatwave of historic proportions has swept across South and Southeast Asia, with temperatures soaring to a scorching 45°C (113°F) in countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh. The extreme heat has forced thousands of schools to close and prompted authorities to issue urgent health warnings across the region.

In the Philippines, the government announced a two-day suspension of in-person classes at all public schools after the capital, Manila, experienced a record-breaking day of heat. The temperature in Manila reached 38.8°C (101.8°F) on Saturday, with the heat index, which factors in humidity, hitting a stifling 45°C (113°F). "The heat index in Manila was listed as above 52°C (126°F) and 'very dangerous' on Sunday," according to the Thai Meteorological Department.

Thailand has also been hit hard by the heatwave, with at least 30 heatstroke deaths reported so far this year. Power demand in the country reached a record high of 36,356 megawatts on Saturday as residents sought relief from the sweltering conditions. Forecasters warn that temperatures could exceed 40°C in the coming days across the northern and northeastern regions of Thailand.

In India, the ongoing general election has added to the challenges posed by the heatwave, with voters enduring sweltering conditions as they queue up to cast their ballots. The Indian election commission has formed a task force to review the impact of the extreme heat on voting. Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, millions of students have returned to schools that had been closed due to the soaring temperatures, raising concerns about their health and well-being.

Why this matters: The severe heatwave affecting South and Southeast Asia highlights the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events driven by climate change. The temperatures of historic proportions are not only disrupting daily life and education but also posing serious risks to public health, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Experts attribute the alarming rise in temperatures to the effects of climate change, with heatwaves becoming longer, more frequent, and more intense. The scorching weather has forced residents to seek refuge in parks and air-conditioned malls, with concerns mounting about the risks of heatstroke and heat-related illnesses. As the heatwave continues to grip the region, governments are taking measures to mitigate its impact, such as implementing shortened work weeks and urging people to save electricity as power plants struggle to meet the surging demand.

Key Takeaways

  • Historic heatwave sweeps across South and Southeast Asia, with temps up to 45°C.
  • Thousands of schools closed, power demand surges as residents seek relief from heat.
  • At least 30 heatstroke deaths reported in Thailand, concerns for public health.
  • Indian election challenges exacerbated by extreme heat, Bangladesh students return to hot schools.
  • Experts attribute heatwave to climate change, governments take measures to mitigate impact.