Indian boys cool off in the river Ganga during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, India, 18 April 2023. EFE-EPA/PIYAL ADHIKARY

Unprecedented April heatwave hits Asia as temperatures surge above 40 degrees

Bangkok, Apr 19 (EFE).- An unprecedented heatwave is wreaking havoc in Asia with temperatures surging above 40 degrees and causing deaths and significant crop damage in India apart from scorching countries such as China, Thailand and Myanmar.

Authorities in India’s western state of Maharashtra on Wednesday cautioned against outdoor activities during the middle of the day, after 13 people died during a massive government rally in the state on Sunday.

Indian boys jump into the river Ganga as they cool off during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, India, 18 April 2023. EFE-EPA/PIYAL ADHIKARY

India is currently experiencing temperatures much higher than usual for this time of the year, just like other regions of Asia, partly due to climate change.

Maharashtra’s tourism minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha told reporters on Wednesday that outdoor events will be banned in the state between noon and 5 pm.

According to the India Meteorological Department, the maximum temperature touched 44 degrees Celsius in several parts of the country on Tuesday, which is 3-5 degrees higher than the average for these dates.

Vendors use large umbrella to avoid the heat wave on a hot afternoon at Juhu beach in Mumbai, India, 17 April 2023. EFE-EPA/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

The surge is affecting not just the health of Indians but also has repercussions for the Indian economy, as crops have been hit hard.

“Another crazy hot day in Asia (…) next days.. worse!” meteorologist Maximiliano Herrera tweeted on Tuesday, citing temperatures of 44.6 degrees in Prayagraj (India), 43 degrees in Ishurdi (Bangladesh) and 44 degree in Kalewa (Myanmar), adding that maximum temperature records were being broken every day.

The weatherman, who runs the popular Twitter handle Extreme Temperatures Around the World, had on Apr. 15 highlighted the record 45.5 degrees temperature in Thailand’s Tak, which is the first time the mercury has gone past 45 degrees in the country according to official weather data.

Thai experts blamed the heatwave partially on climate change and warned that the El Nino weather effect could contribute to even hotter and drier weather in the coming months, increasing the possibility of droughts and health problems for the population.

An Indian commuter covers his face during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, India, 17 April 2023. EFE-EPA/PIYAL ADHIKARY

Laos has also registered all-time high temperatures this week, with Luang Prabang registering 42.7 degrees, while China’s Yuanyang (Yunnan province) recorded a maximum temperature of 42.4 degrees on Wednesday.

Although meteorologists quoted by China’s local press have insisted that the current weather spell may not be necessarily be indicative of the weather in the next few months, Chinese netizens have expressed concern over a repeat of last summer.

In 2022, intense summer heat led to provinces dependent on hydroelectric energy, such as Sichuan, restricting power supply to some industries and the government warning of a severe threat to crops.

The ongoing heatwave has also affected northern Malaysia and the Philippines, where temperatures have touched 47 degrees amid concerns that El Nino could result in extreme temperatures and water shortage in the next few months.

In Singapore, where 2022 was one of the wettest years since 1980 due to La Nina – a weather effect that is the opposite of El Nino – dry weather has arrived with a bang, with the average midday temperature set to hover around 34 degrees during the next two weeks, the local weather service announced. The city-state witnessed a highest temperature of 36.1 degrees on Apr. 14. EFE