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Imminent heatwaves to scorch northern China

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Tianjin Port in northern China

BEIJING (Reuters) -Heatwaves are predicted to sweep through northern China in the next two weeks, with more than 250 million people expected to grapple with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.

For four to six days, the regions of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, and the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Gansu and Shaanxi, will see temperatures of more than 40°C, said Fang Xiang, deputy head of the National Meteorological Center (NMC).

As of 5:40 p.m. (0940 GMT), the meteorological centre had issued 184 heatwave alerts across northern, northwestern and southwestern China.

China has faced extreme weather contrasts this summer, with heatwaves in the north and heavy rain and floods in the south. The government has blamed climate change, which it says will increasingly affect the economy and society.

In June, heatwaves affected nearly half of China's population. Part of northern China's power grid load saw new highs last month, affecting energy supply, Fang said.

"The lasting high temperatures will cause a marked impact on production and life, such as increased pressure on power supply," Fang said.

The risk of forest fires and harm to the stable growth of crops such as rice, cotton, and corn can also be expected, he told a news conference.

Drought-like conditions are expected to affect crops in Shandong, Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi and Gansu, Fang warned.

In June, China's average temperature was the highest since 1961, Wang Yawei, a weather official, said.

It was also 0.9 degree Celsius higher compared with the same period in previous years, he said.

Last month, the provinces of Henan and Jiangsu, which have a combined population of more than 180 million, set new daily power usage records.

"It'd take magic to defeat magic - only a big storm can break the 40-degree spell of warm weather," wrote a netizen from Zhengzhou, provincial capital of Henan.

(Reporting by Albee Zhang, Ella Cao and Ryan Woo, Editing by Gerry Doyle and Angus MacSwan)