Many cities are also registering record high temperatures even as rains continued to wreak havoc in many pockets. Such climate crisis-induced weather extremes are predicted to linger on.
The red alert is the highest in a three-tier warning system and has been issued for parts of the eastern Jiangsu province and neighbouring Shanghai, where records have been broken for the highest temperatures for the month of July.
On Tuesday, maximum temperatures soared to 37-39C in parts of Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei and Anhui provinces, and the cities of Chongqing and Shanghai.
Temperatures in the city of Yixing in Jiangsu shot up to 41.3C on the same day, marking a new historic peak, the China Meteorological Administration said on Wednesday.
In particular, the cities of Luzhou and Yibin in Sichuan and Zhaotong in Yunnan, as well as Shaoxing, Ningbo, Jiaxing and Huzhou in Zhejiang, and Changzhou and Wuxi in Jiangsu, hit temperatures of around 40-42C.
“#Heatstroke” began trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo after at least 2.45 million views were registered for discussions ranging from people being admitted to hospital to the detrimental effects of long-term heat exposure.
“This year’s weather is really hot and abnormal, it has been more than 30C for two months!” wrote a Weibo user.
Forecasters said temperatures in some cities would top 40C in the next 24 hours. Advisories have been issued by authorities to prepare for unusually hot weather.
Such temperatures for longer periods are unusual for many Chinese cities. Since record keeping began in 1873, Shanghai has had only 15 days with temperatures above 40C. But average temperatures have been climbing for several years now.
This comes as large parts of the US and Europe are also suffering through scorching heat, with the UK’s NHS reaching a “tipping point” after hospitals and ambulance services declared the highest level black alert.
Meanwhile, heavy rain battered parts of Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Shandong, Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces and the Inner Mongolia region on Tuesday.
Authorities have said the two extremes in weather, induced by the climate crisis, can lead to disasters from mid July, usually the hottest and wettest time of year.
Torrential rains in China’s southwestern cities have already caused flooding and waterlogging in addition to traffic disruptions and leaving residents stranded. At least two people were reported dead in the Mianyang city in southwest China’s Sichuan province on Tuesday, according to local reports.
While there are a combination of factors that are responsible for these unusual weather events, previous reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned such weather extremes are set to rise and become more frequent due to the climate crisis.
China’s heatwave comes after Japan suffered its worst one since 1875 and south Asia, including India and Pakistan, went through a deadly summer, which arrived much earlier this year from from March to May, impacting crop production and causing an energy crisis.
Meanwhile, rains continue to wreak havoc in other parts of south Asia as well, including in Bangladesh and northeast India, where millions of people were displaced after heavy flooding.
Additional reporting by agencies