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Bangladesh Suffers Hottest April, Life Unbearable for Many

Photo : AFP

Bangladesh is grappling with an unprecedented heatwave, as the nation endures its hottest April on record, reported the country's weather bureau. The suffocating heat prompted authorities to close schools nationwide, affecting around 32 million students.

According to Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik, a senior forecaster at the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, nearly 80% of the country experienced relentless and widespread heatwaves, unprecedented in their duration and extent. Temperatures soared two to eight degrees Celsius higher than the average daily temperature of 33.2 degrees Celsius recorded between 1981 and 2010.

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The scorching conditions have led to at least 11 heatstroke-related deaths confirmed by the government over the past 10 days. Relief from the blistering heat is anticipated with the onset of rain expected from Thursday, following a week of sweltering temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in the capital, Dhaka.

Mallik attributed the severity of the heatwave to the absence of the usual pre-monsoon April thunderstorms, which typically bring respite to the nation ahead of the summer months. This April saw a stark deviation from the norm, with rainfall averaging merely one millimeter compared to the usual 130.2 millimeters.

The government initially ordered schools to reopen last weekend but was compelled to close them again on Monday by a directive from a top court, considering reports of several teachers succumbing to the heatwave.

Amidst the blistering conditions, communities across Bangladesh have turned to prayers for relief, gathering at mosques and open spaces to seek divine intervention. The situation has been described as unbearable, particularly for the vulnerable segments of society.

The heatwave extends beyond Bangladesh, affecting large parts of South and Southeast Asia, with temperatures soaring to record highs from Myanmar to the Philippines. The El Niño phenomenon exacerbates the already exceptionally warm weather, with forecasts indicating temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius in countries including Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and India.

The prolonged heatwave underscores the urgent need for climate action as Asia experiences increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves, exacerbating the challenges faced by communities already vulnerable to climate change impacts.

May 1, 2024 4:14 p.m. 5963

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