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40 die in Guangdong heatwave
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-09 00:23

South China's Guangdong Province is readying itself for the onslaught of summer heatwaves and the toll they take in the wake of 40 deaths last Friday caused by excessive heat.

The city is expected to introduce a heat warning system to help local companies and residents take effective precautions against heat-related problems such as sunstroke.

An official from the Guangdong Provincial Observatory yesterday said government departments had agreed to carefully study a proposal put forward by local meteorological experts.

"If approved, the southern Chinese province will take the lead in the Chinese mainland in introducing a heat warning system starting next year," the official, who declined to be named, said.

The provincial observatory has also suggested a "sunstroke index'' be issued so that during the hot summer days local residents can be urged to pay special attention to fighting off the effects of heat, the official told China Daily.

When the weather becomes unbearably hot, the observatory will advise local governments and companies to allow workers and residents to take time off if the heat becomes unbearable, the official said.

He said meteorological experts formally put forward the proposal to provincial and municipal governments earlier this week.

In the past, Guangdong Province has introduced warning systems when typhoons, storms or severe cold has struck the province.

"And these disaster warning systems have proven to be effective for local companies and residents to take precautions," the official said.

The new warning system will, particularly benefit large numbers of local construction workers, senior citizens and school children, the official said.

The introduction of the system comes after at least 40 persons died in a heatwave late last week when the mercury climbed to as high as 39.3 C last Friday in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.

It was a record high in the southern metropolis for the past 50 years, the official said.

The mercury even topped 40 C in the northern part of Guangdong Province last week.

More than 20 cities and counties in the province saw record high temperatures during the previous week.

Most of the heatwave victims were construction workers who had to work under the blistering sun. The youngest victim was just 20. The others were mainly senior citizens.

They died of sunstroke and other complications related to the heat.

Major hospitals in Guangzhou had a sharp increase in the number of outpatients and emergency cases last week because of the heatwave.

In addition to sunstroke and dehydration, most of the patients suffered from high fevers, heart disease, vomiting, asthma and other heat-related problems, according to Li Zijing, a doctor from the Emergency Case Department under Guangzhou No 1 People's Hospital.

The province's high temperatures dropped starting last Sunday when typhoon Mindulle brought heavy rains to Chinese coastal areas.

Guangzhou's temperatures reached 28 to 33 C yesterday.

But an official from the Guangdong Provincial Observatory warned that another heatwave would strike Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong and Macao, in the coming days due to current unstable weather.

And the province is also expected to be hit by even more heatwaves in the upcoming years.

Meanwhile the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Labour and Social Security is drafting new regulations to further protect the interest of the province's large number of construction workers who have to work in the open air.

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