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Heat Crisis in Asia: Affecting Millions and Escalating Climate Concerns

Asia is currently experiencing record-breaking heat, with oppressive heatwaves affecting over 12 countries in the past couple of weeks, including India and China, which represent one-third of the world’s population. Climatologist and weather historian Maximiliano Herrera described it as the “worst” April heatwave in Asia’s history and a “monster” heat spell “like none before.” Thailand broke its national heat record over the weekend with a temperature of 45.4 degrees Celsius (113.72 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded in the province of Tak. Neighboring Laos likely also hit its “highest reliable temperature in its history.” Additionally, hundreds of weather stations across China have broken their April heat records, and temperatures have soared above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in India this month. Unfortunately, the heat has already claimed lives, with more than a dozen people dying from heatstroke in Navi Mumbai at an outdoor ceremony honoring a community leader from Maharashtra.

The current heat spell in Asia is particularly severe due to its length and wide-ranging impact. Unfortunately, extreme weather events have become more frequent in recent years. For instance, India, Pakistan, and other parts of South Asia endured a massive heatwave last year, which was 30 times more likely due to climate change. Climate experts warn that with global warming, prolonged, extreme heatwaves are expected to occur more frequently worldwide.

In China, the most severe heatwave on record occurred last year, causing factories to shut down, and people had to retreat to caves to find relief from the heat. Lasting over 70 days, the heat spell covered an area of nearly 530,000 square miles (about 1,372,694 square kilometers). Climatologist Maximiliano Herrera commented that “there is nothing in world climatic history which is even minimally comparable to what is happening in China.”

Despite these extreme events, there’s still plenty of time for more heat records to be broken this year. Summer hasn’t even started yet in China, and in South and Southeast Asia, the hottest period of the year typically starts in April and extends into May.

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