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Visitors crowd an artificial wave pool at a tourist resort to escape the summer heat in Daying county of Suining, Sichuan province, July 27, 2013. Picture taken July 27, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily
Reuters/China Daily
​”Boiling dumplings.”
COMMENTARY

As China’s heatwave hits 104 °F in a slew of cities, people get creative about cooling off

By Gwynn Guilford in China

The heatwave that settled over China for more than a month now is proving unrelenting, breaking 104 °F (40 °C) in more than 40 cities this month. Temperatures are projected to climb to almost 106 °F along the eastern seaboard and in Xinjiang over the next few days. Here’s how things currently look across the country, via IT Times (registration required):


It’s hot enough already that, earlier today, TV reporters fried pork on a Shanghai sidewalk (registration required):

The “sauna weather,” as it’s called, is starting to take its toll. Several have died of heat strokes already, including construction workers (links in Chinese), many of whom are migrants with weak worker protections and limited health care benefits. Xinhua reported that the mortality rate for heat strokes could be as high as 50%-70% (registration required) due to lack of timely treatment. Meanwhile, a drought in Guizhou has left 1 million without a steady supply of water (video), with electricity and water usage off the charts in many other cities as well.

As temperatures soared, people all over China devised ways of beating the heat, driving what some call “the heatwave economy” (link in Chinese). On Taobao, China’s eBay-cum-Amazon, searches for heat deterrents are up, with a PR rep reporting 2.5 times as many fan sales as last year. Meanwhile, restaurants and groceries are doing brisk business in deliveries (link in Chinese).

Some have sought more active ways of cooling off. Around 15,000 people in Sichuan province, where the high was 100 °F, thronged a wave pool in a resort near “China’s Dead Sea.” Online commenters quickly arrived at a name for them: “boiling dumplings” (link in Chinese). Along with ”heatwave” and “heatstroke,” “China’s Dead Sea” was among the top most discussed items on social network Sina Weibo today. Here’s a roundup of how folks around China are beating the heat:

Imaginechina via AP Images

In Shanghai, today was the hottest day in recorded history, with temperatures hitting 105 °F. Those without air conditioning found refuge from the heat in this supermarket, via @samgeall:

Also in Shanghai, a migrant construction worker hoses off:

Imaginechina via AP Images

Many around China ducked into subways in search of some cool. A glimpse at that tactic in Hangzhou:

Reuters/Stringer

In Wuhan, students at Central China Normal University began finding refuge in the air conditioned gym back in late June, when the heat wave began (most college dorms in China lack air-conditioning). Temperatures hit 104 °F there today:

Imaginechina via AP Images

When it comes to hydrating zoo animals, the key is apparently plying them with watermelons (link in Chinese). A worker at Xian Qinling Zoo tries to cool down monkeys with watermelon:

Imaginechina via AP Images

More than 100,000 people squeezed onto this Dalian beach in northern China (registration required). The brutal heat is proving a boon to China’s beach resorts, like this one: