Heat wave continues to bake nation

Kyodo, JIJI

The severe heat wave continued Tuesday to engulf wide areas of Japan, with temperatures in one western city reaching 40 degrees for the fourth day in a row, the Meteorological Agency said.

The city of Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture, which on Monday logged the country’s highest temperature ever at 41.0, continued to swelter with a high of 40.0.

The agency said Shimanto was the first observation point to reach 40 degrees four days in a row since it started monitoring such statistics in 1875.

The city had a high of 40.7 on Saturday and 40.4 on Sunday.

The mercury exceeded 30 at more than 600 of the 927 observation points across the nation, while 50 locations had temperatures above 35.

The Meteorological Agency issued a heat alert for areas stretching from the Kanto-Koshin region in eastern and central Japan to Kyushu, urging the public to stay hydrated and use air conditioning.

Meanwhile, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 9,815 people were taken to hospitals by ambulance for heat-related reasons during the seven days through Sunday.

The figure represented a 3.28-fold increase from the previous week, when 2,994 people were transported to hospitals, the agency said Tuesday.

The total tally since May 27, when the agency started taking the data this year, reached 39,944.

On Saturday and Sunday alone, the number came to 5,140.

On both days, a heat wave hit a large area in Japan, sending the temperatures above 40 in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, and Shimanto.

During the seven days through Sunday, 860 people in Tokyo were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heat-related problems, the highest number among all 47 prefectures.

Chiba came in second with 661 people, followed by 649 in Saitama, 607 in Osaka and 596 in Kanagawa.

Of those taken to hospitals, 17 people died and 292 people were listed in serious condition, requiring a stay of at least three weeks in a hospital.