Heat wave scorches east China

2013-07-25 14:24:15 GMT2013-07-25 22:24:15(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

HANGZHOU, July 25 (Xinhua) -- A heat wave continued to sizzle across China's eastern regions on Thursday, forcing people to take whatever measures they could to get out of the weather.

The temperature in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, hit a record 40.4 degrees Celsius Wednesday, the highest in 62 years. The scorching weather will continue until Sunday, said the Zhejiang Provincial Climate Center.

"The subtropical high and the concentration of heat in urban air, which is caused by vehicle exhaust and the heat island effect, leads to a heat wave," said Mao Yanjun, a researcher at the center.

The sweltering weather forced Hangzhou residents to try and cool off in shopping malls, stores and even subway stations.

"In some subway stations, people have been crowding on platforms to enjoy the coolness underground," said Wu Ting, the public relations manager with Hangzhou Metro.

"Subway stations are for public transportation. The crowds disturb passengers and bring about more security risks," he added.

Hangzhou locals also flocked to underground air-raid shelters, which have been opened by the government, which also provides drinking water, power supply, cable television and wifi access.

"There is a constant temperature of 22 degrees Celsius and the humidity inside is 63 degrees, which is suitable for the human body," said Cheng Zhiguo, an official with Hangzhou civil air defense projects development center.

Since early July, there have been 90,000 visits to ten air-raid shelters in the provincial capital.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hangzhou saw its electrical load exceed 11 million kilowatts, a new record and about a 10 percent increase compared with the same period in 2012.

To ensure residential electricity consumption, the Hangzhou government suspended use of some street lighting and told all enterprises to initiate their emergency plans for off-peak power consumption.

Neighboring Shanghai municipality issued an orange alert for high temperatures Thursday and this was soon upgraded to a rare red alert as the temperature reached 39.3 degrees Celsius.

The figure is the fourth highest in late July for Shanghai in 140 years.

China has a three-tier alert on high temperatures, yellow, orange and red.

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