Officials, Citizens Struggling with High Heat in Southeast Asia

29 April 2024

Officials closed schools and issued health warnings as a deadly heat wave has spread across Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, the education ministry announced on Sunday that in-person classes at public schools would be canceled for two days.

Benjo Basas is chairperson of Teachers' Dignity Coalition, a group of educators. Basas told DWPM radio station, "We already have reports of high blood pressure and dizziness, and fainting for pupils and teachers in the past days,"

Children sit in buckets and basins during a hot day in Manila, Philippines, April 29, 2024. (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
Children sit in buckets and basins during a hot day in Manila, Philippines, April 29, 2024. (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Temperatures in the Philippines are expected to reach 37 degrees Celsius in the next three days, with many classrooms crowded and without air conditioning.

The country's weather agency said the heat index made the weather feel as though the temperature was 45 degrees Celsius. That heat level is considered "dangerous" and might lead to heat stroke.

The heat wave is also putting pressure on power supplies on Luzon, the country's largest island. Officials closed 13 power plants on the island earlier in the month.

In Thailand, temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees or more in the capital city of Bangkok and the country's central and northern areas. The weather agency advised people to avoid being outdoors for extended periods.

In the northern city of Lampang, temperatures reached 44.2 degrees Celsius on April 22. And officials expect the extreme heat to continue this week.

In the past month, 30 people have died from heat stroke, data from Thailand's health ministry showed.

Dehydration, heat stroke

State media reported that people in Vietnam are heading to air-conditioned shopping centers to escape the heat in Ho Chi Minh City. The country's national weather agency warns of forest fires and the risk of dehydration and "heat shock."

On Sunday, the agency reported temperatures as high as 44 degrees Celsius in parts of northern and central Vietnam. The heat is expected to last until Wednesday.

Vietnam's state electricity company has also urged people not to overuse their air conditioning. The company warned that electricity usage has reached record highs in recent days.

Malaysia officials issued hot weather warnings on Sunday for 16 areas that have recorded temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees for three straight days.

Earlier in the month, Malaysia's health ministry said 45 cases of heat-related illnesses had been reported through April 13. The ministry reported two deaths from heat stroke.

In neighboring Singapore, the weather service said the country's temperature could reach higher in 2024 than last year.

Since last month, some schools in Singapore have eased rules for wearing uniforms. Students are being permitted to wear exercise clothing because of the heat.

Warm temperatures in Indonesia are being blamed for an outbreak of dengue fever. The health ministry reported that cases of the mosquito-borne disease more than doubled to 35,000 from 15,000 a year earlier.

A health ministry spokesman added that the warm El Niño ocean current has extended the dry season. The ministry said the warmer temperatures have sped up the mosquitoes' lifecycle.

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Neil Morales reported this story for Reuters news agency. Hai Do adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

dizziness –n. being unable to keep one's balance or being unable to stand

faint –v. to lose consciousness

pupil –n. a student

heat index –n. an index that combines several different conditions that aims to express what the weather "feels like" rather than what the reading is from a thermometer

heat stroke –n. any of a number of bad effects that come from the body getting too hot

dehydration –n. a condition in which the body does not have enough water causing several dangerous health problems

uniform –n. clothing worn by all members of a group, such as in schools or in the military, that is the same for everyone

lifecycle –n. all the different stages in the life of a living thing