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North swelters in 40 degree heatwave

Update: May, 17/2013 - 09:18
People wear masks and sun-protective clothes in Ha Noi as the mercury went beyond 40C. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI (VNS)— It is 40 degree Celsius at noon and Ha Noi's streets are nearly completely empty. A few people, mainly vendors and motorbike taxi drivers, linger under the rare spots of shade, hoping for custom. The intense, all-encompassing heat seems to bounce off the cement roads, directly up into their tired faces.

Hanoians and their neighbours in other northern provinces are suffering the first heatwave of the year, with temperatures soaring between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius during daytime.

The heat is particularly bad in urban areas, where there are many buildings and few trees, according to Le Thanh Hai, deputy director of the National Centre for Hydro-Meteological Forecasting.

This heatwave, which is expected to last more than three days, has been caused by the combined effects of hot low pressure and a south-westerly wind, he said.

The sudden rise in temperatures has led to an increase in hospitalisations of children and the elderly. More than 4,000 children have received health checks at the Central Paediatrics Hospital in the past two days while the Paediatrics Department at Saint Paul's Hospital is being visited by more than 400 children per day.

About 70 per cent of them are experiencing coughing and high fever.

The Thang Long International VIllage's swimming pool, like many others, have been crowded every day lately as people seek relief from the heat. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Thanh Giang

Paediatrician Dinh Thanh Binh said that children fail to be adaptable to sudden temperature changes, often leading to acute pneumonia.

Many parents are careless about using air conditioners which are often much lower than outside temperatures, he added.

No place to hide

People working outside have been particularly affected by the hot weather.

Nguyen Thanh Trung, a security guard at Ha Noi Post Office said his daily working hours between 7.30am and 6.30pm had been unbearable recently.

His only solution has been to drink as much water as possible and keep wetting his face with fresh water, but even these measures only bring him momentary relief.

Many people have said that the use of air conditioners and fans throughout the day and night is their first choice for keeping cool during these scorching days.

According to the Ha Noi Load Dispatch Centre of Electricity of Viet Nam, electricity usage topped 44,500MWh yesterday, almost 50 per cent higher than recorded in the first days of May.

They said that this sudden increase would lead to power cuts in some parts of the city, but confirmed that improvements had been made to the network's capacity. People were advised to save electricity and turn off unnecessary electrical equipment.

Students and other people whose houses are not equipped with air conditioners are finding their own ways to deal with the weather.

Student Nguyen Viet Hong said he regularly goes to PiCo Shopping Centre near his house in order to enjoy their air conditioners and study, while at night he puts large water bowls in his room to reduce the temperature inside.

Many families take their children to parks in the evenings to escape from the trapped heat in their homes, he added.

When going outside in the daytime, a lot of people, especially women, have been wearing sun-protective outfits. As such, the prices of these items of clothing have been rising steadily recently, topping over VND300,000 (US$14).

However, even these are not enough for the capital's sweltering drivers who have been reduced to hiding in the shadows of trees when waiting at red lights.

Banker Hoang Thu Lan, said she had to wear two face masks to keep off the sun and so preferred to stay at home and rely on delivery services.

The heatwave has not been bad news for everyone though. Proprietors of fruit juice shops, swimming pools and food delivery services have seen demand rocket.

Nguyen Le Hoang, an owner of a famous tofu shop said sales of tofu-made drinks have trebled due to their effectiveness at preventing fevers.

According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteological Forecasting, it is predicted that northern provinces will suffer eight heatwaves this year, lasting five to seven days each. Most will take place between May and July.

Deputy Director Hai said temperatures this summer will match those from last year. —VNS



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