A severe heat wave sweeping across Southeast Asia has forced school closures and is responsible for numerous fatalities.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern over the heat’s impact on children. With over 243 million children in East Asia and the Pacific at risk, the agency emphasized the dangers of heat-related illnesses amidst predictions of an unusually hot summer.

Class Suspensions in the Philippines

The Philippines has suspended in-person classes in public schools as a result of the extreme temperatures, compounded by a transport strike. The capital, Manila, witnessed temperatures soaring to 38.8°C (101.8°F), breaking the May 1915 record. Schools adapted by shifting to online learning for Monday and Tuesday.

With the continuation of school closures and the shift to online education, the community is urged to take preventive measures to combat the health risks posed by the current heat wave.

Record-Breaking Temperatures and Power Demand in Thailand

In Thailand, the heat has pushed power demand to an unprecedented peak of 36,356 megawatts. The most acute temperatures were recorded in the northern and northeastern areas, where the mercury climbed to 44°C. Bangkok authorities, in light of the escalating heat, have issued warnings of “very dangerous” heat index levels. The country has seen about 30 heat-related deaths this year alone, nearing last year’s total of 37 fatalities.

Broad Impact Across Southern Asia

The persistent heat wave has not spared other parts of southern Asia. India’s ongoing elections are taking place under the duress of 40°C+ temperatures. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s coffee plantations suffer from droughts and escalating heat. To mitigate heat effects on workers, a Luzon province in the Philippines has adopted a four-day workweek.

The severity and breadth of this heat wave in underscore the urgent need for preparedness and protective actions across Southeast Asia. Communities, governments, and international bodies must collaborate closely to safeguard vulnerable populations and minimize the health, educational, and economic impacts of these increasingly frequent and intense weather events.

Image Source: The Business Standard