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Record-Breaking Temperatures- Southeast Asia’s Schools Shut Down as Mercury Soars!

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Image Credit: The Japan Times

Southeast Asia finds itself in the throes of a prolonged heat wave, prompting urgent health advisories and school closures across several countries in the region. The sweltering temperatures have soared to record highs, exacerbating concerns about health risks and potential disruptions to daily life.

In the Philippines, authorities have taken decisive action to safeguard public health, ordering millions of students in all public schools to stay home as in-person classes were canceled for two days. The directive comes amidst soaring temperatures and health warnings advising against outdoor activities, particularly for vulnerable demographics such as the young and elderly.

Meanwhile, Cambodia is grappling with its highest temperatures in 170 years, with forecasts indicating temperatures reaching up to 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in most parts of the country. Myanmar, too, is experiencing unprecedented heat, with record-high temperatures reported in seven townships across various regions.

The scorching conditions have taken a toll on the Philippines, where the intense tropical summer heat, compounded by humidity, has prompted widespread class cancellations and raised concerns about water shortages and power outages. To mitigate health risks, the Department of Education has transitioned over 47,000 public schools to home-based and online learning, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding students’ well-being.

In Thailand, temperatures have soared above 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit) in northern areas, with Bangkok and metropolitan regions also experiencing extreme heat. The Meteorological Department forecasts this year’s summer to be 1-2 degrees hotter than the previous year, with below-average rainfall exacerbating concerns about drought conditions.

Tragically, the heatwave has claimed lives, with at least 30 heatstroke-related fatalities reported in Thailand so far this year. The rising number of heat-related deaths underscores the urgency of addressing the health risks posed by the scorching temperatures.

Despite efforts to mitigate the impact of the heatwave, concerns remain about the classification of heat-related fatalities and the accuracy of reported figures. In the Philippines, for instance, at least 34 individuals have fallen ill due to extreme heat, with six reported deaths. Similarly, media reports from Bangladesh have documented at least 20 heatstroke-related deaths in a five-day period earlier this month.

However, officials in Cambodia have indicated relatively few heat-related fatalities, with the head of the Health Department of Phnom Penh reporting no deaths or collapses due to extreme heat.

As Southeast Asia grapples with the challenges posed by the prolonged heatwave, authorities are urging residents to take precautionary measures, stay hydrated, and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. The severity of the heatwave underscores the pressing need for effective strategies to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events and protect vulnerable populations from the adverse effects of climate change.

As reported by AP News in their recent article  

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