Record heat wave grips China as flood toll rises in South Korea

BEIJING, July 19 (BNA): Tourists flocked to a giant thermometer in China showing surface temperatures of 80C (176F) while the death toll from torrential rain in South Korea reached 44 on Wednesday, the latest severe weather that sparked chaos and curiosity around the world. the world. world.

Wildfires raged for a third day west of the Greek capital, Athens, as waterlogged air bombers resumed operations at first light and firefighters worked through the night to keep flames away from a coastal refinery complex.

In stifling Beijing, US climate envoy John Kerry kicked off the third day of talks with Chinese officials, expressing hope that cooperation to combat global warming could redefine the troubled relations between the two superpowers.

The global pattern of heatwaves that have ravaged parts of Europe, Asia and the United States this week has put that challenge into sharp relief. On Tuesday, the World Meteorological Organization warned of an increased risk of deaths associated with excessively high temperatures.

Meanwhile, the Big Island of Hawaii was preparing for the impact of Tropical Storm Calvin, which is expected to bring up to 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) of rain and strong winds, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

In South Korea, heavy rains have hit the central and southern regions since last week. Fourteen people died in a tunnel in the central city of Cheongju, where more than a dozen vehicles were submerged on Saturday when a river embankment collapsed. And in the southeastern province of North Gyeongsang, 22 people died, many from landslides and torrents.

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This year’s victims have raised questions about South Korea’s efforts to prevent and respond to flood damage, less than a year after the torrential rains lashed Seoul in 115 years.

President Yoon Sok-yeol said the situation was made worse by lax management of vulnerable areas and failure to follow rules, and designated 13 flood-stricken areas as special disaster areas on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Han Duk-soo called for faster repair efforts to prevent additional damage, warning of more heavy rains expected this weekend.

“If we take extreme weather events caused by climate change as part of our daily lives, we will put in place institutional measures and systems accordingly,” Han said at an interagency meeting on flood response.

Tourists armed with wide-brimmed hats and umbrellas braved scorching temperatures to take selfies with a giant thermometer that showed a real-time surface temperature of 80 degrees Celsius (176 Fahrenheit), state television showed in western China’s Xinjiang province.

Every summer, curious tourists flock to the Flaming Mountains on the northern edge of the Turpan Depression in Xinjiang to admire not only their undulating slopes of brown and red sandstone but also the intense heat radiating from the land.

In recent days, temperatures in Xinjiang and other parts of Asia, as well as Europe and the United States, have broken records.

On Sunday, a remote town in the Turpan Depression recorded a maximum air temperature of 52.2°C, breaking China’s national record of 50.3°C set in 2015, also in the basin.

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On that day, Turpan, west of the Flame Mountains, had the highest air temperatures at 31 local weather stations exceeding 45 degrees Celsius, with the maximum at five of them exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, according to state media on Wednesday.

Beijing on Tuesday recorded temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius for the 27th day, setting a new local record for the largest number of high-temperature days in a year. The previous record for the Chinese capital was 26 days, set in 2000.

These unprecedented temperatures have added new urgency to countries around the world to tackle climate change that scientists say will make heat waves more frequent, intense and deadly.

In contrast to the sweltering heat, heavy rain, thunderstorms, wind and hail are expected to hit other parts of China in the next 18 hours, according to the country’s National Meteorological Center.

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