May 21, 2024

Record heat wave from Thailand to Vietnam

Photo: Iba-Ife/Rongrog Youngret

Bangkok: Red heads From Bangkok to Manila: El Nino has turned parts of Asia into an oven. Temperatures above 50 degrees are not only dangerous to your health, but they also have other consequences.

People in Bangkok move slowly these days. very slow. Vendors at food stalls fan themselves with whatever they have on hand. Tourists walk through Wat Arun and other famous temple complexes in red capes and sweaty T-shirts. An unbearable heatwave has gripped the Thai capital and many other parts of the country for weeks, and it simply won’t end. Other countries in the region are hardly doing better.

If you don’t necessarily have to venture out into the street, you can stay in air-conditioned indoor spaces – the famous temperature-controlled shopping malls in the glittering city are currently booming. Authorities also advise avoiding spending long periods outdoors. They regularly issue warnings as the heat index — the perceived temperature based on humidity and other factors — exceeds 52 degrees, especially at lunchtime.

“The reason the situation is unbearable in Bangkok is of course the lack of trees,” says Germain Nicole, who has lived in the city for seven years. “There is hardly any nature, so there is hardly any shade.” According to the country’s health authorities, 30 people have died from heat-related illnesses since the beginning of the year.

Water shortages on holiday islands

Thais are accustomed to high temperatures, especially in April, the hottest month of the year. But the situation has not been nearly as bad as this year, with residents groaning in unison. And certainly not over such a long period of time. Particularly severe: even at night there is no cooling. Values ​​barely fall below 30 degrees.

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“Not only foreigners, even Thais are shaking their heads at these amazing temperatures,” says Barbara from Munich, who has lived for five years on the holiday island of Koh Samui, which is very popular with Germans. “There is hardly any other topic.” There is also a water shortage because the reservoirs are at their lowest levels and the water pumped from the mainland to the island is no longer sufficient. Residents say the private companies that own the tanker trucks are now making huge profits.

Record of values ​​from Vietnam to Bangladesh

Thailand is not an isolated case. Other countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia also reported higher temperatures – especially the Philippines, Bangladesh and Vietnam. South Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), is suffering from the longest heat wave in 30 years. According to meteorologists, daily temperatures have almost always been above 35 degrees since the beginning of the year. In some areas, temperatures have recently been measured at around 40 degrees.

“It’s so hot that I can only plant early in the morning,” says farmer Pham Van Bao. “I’m very concerned that the fish in my pond will die because of the water being too warm.” As in Thailand, extreme heat has pushed electricity consumption to all-time record levels.

The El Niño phenomenon causes temperatures to rise

According to experts, the dreaded El Niño climate phenomenon is primarily responsible. Last year, the World Weather Organization (WMO) confirmed that El Niño conditions were prevailing for the first time in several years – and warned of extreme weather events. “El Niño will end in June, but temperatures may rise significantly in many countries in the first half of this year,” Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a Thai marine ecologist, said weeks ago, warning of a historic heatwave, especially in parts of Asia.

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Bangladesh is currently experiencing the longest heat wave in at least 75 years. “I have never experienced such scorching heat before,” says Aminur Rahman, an exhausted 38-year-old from the capital, Dhaka. In order to support his family of five, he drives his rickshaw. He currently only runs two hours a day. But hardly any customers come anyway – even in Dhaka, people prefer to stay in cooler indoor spaces. However, at least ten people died from heatstroke within a few days. As a precaution, schools were closed – just as happened in the Philippines.

Portable showers in the Philippines

The National Weather Service has forecast a worrying heat index for the island nation: the expected temperature could reach 57 degrees in the next few days and weeks and poses a “severe danger.” Due to the increased demand for electricity to operate air conditioning systems, there was a risk of power outages. “Our electricity grid is overloaded because it is very hot,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. warned.

Health authorities urged residents to protect themselves with umbrellas and sun hats and drink plenty of water. In Valenzuela, a suburb of Manila, the local government has deployed free portable bathrooms. In doing so, it wants to provide relief to many citizens who suffer from water shortages in the region. This is also intended to prevent sunstroke.

The El Niño phenomenon is not related to human-induced climate change. It is a climate phenomenon that occurs naturally every few years, and is associated with a rise in sea water temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean and a weakening of trade winds. However, this phenomenon can exacerbate the consequences of climate change because it has an additional warming effect. Impacts are particularly visible in Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa and Central America.

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