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Record-breaking 52.2°C temperature hit China on Sunday, stoking fears of drought

People walk on a street on a sweltering day in Beijing, 6 July 2023.
People walk on a street on a sweltering day in Beijing, 6 July 2023. Copyright AP Photo/Andy Wong, File
Copyright AP Photo/Andy Wong, File
By Euronews Green with Reuters
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Concerns are mounting of a possible repeat of last year's drought.

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China recorded a record-breaking temperature of 52.2°C on Sunday 16 July.

The searing heat hit the remote northwest township of Sanbao in Xinjiang's Turpan Depression, state-run newspaper Xinjiang Daily reported.

The previous high of 50.3°C was recorded in 2015 in Ayding, also in Turpan - a vast basin of sand dunes and dried-up lakes more than 150 metres below sea level.

Record heat is expected to persist in the region for at least another five days.

Asia is struggling through record-breaking heatwaves

Since April, countries across Asia have been hit by several rounds of record-breaking heat. The extreme weather has stoked concerns about their ability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. 

The target of keeping long-term global warming within 1.5°C is moving out of reach, climate experts say.

Prolonged bouts of high temperatures in China have challenged power grids and crops, and concerns are mounting of a possible repeat of last year's drought, the most severe in 60 years.

In April, Thailand hit a record high of 45°C. Vietnam was forced to ration electricity in May as temperatures of over 44°C led to soaring demand for air conditioning. 

Last month, a searing heatwave in two of India's most populous states hospitalised hundreds and killing nearly 170 people.

South Korea faced deadly floods over the weekend after heatwave warnings were issued earlier in the month.

China faces worsening weather extremes

China is no stranger to dramatic swings in temperatures across the seasons but the swings are getting wider.

On 22 January, temperatures in Mohe, a city in northeastern Heilongjiang province, plunged to minus 53°C, according to the local weather bureau, smashing China's previous all-time low of minus 52.3°C set in 1969.

Since then, the heaviest rains in a decade have hit central China, ravaging wheat fields in an area known as the country's granary.

This week, the United States and China are looking to rekindle efforts to fight global warming, with US special climate envoy John Kerry in Beijing holding talks with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

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