August 03, 2012 13:28
A heat wave throughout the country that started late last month is taking an increasing toll. According to health officials, the heat has claimed one life every day between July 24 and Wednesday.
With no rainfall expected until the middle of the month, the scorching temperatures will continue to wreak havoc.
Temperatures in Seoul hovered between 35 and 36 degrees Celsius with the mercury reaching 35.2 on Thursday. The capital has seen six straight so-called tropical nights from July 28 to Thursday when the temperature did not drop below 25 degrees at night. It was the longest unbroken series of tropical nights since August 2004.
A spokesman for the Korea Meteorological Administration said the hot weather will peak in the first half of this month.
Seven people have died from heat-related causes over the last nine days, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The hot weather has just begun, but the number of heat-related fatalities has already surpassed last year's six deaths between July and September.
Over the last 10 days, 350 people have been rushed to emergency rooms at 458 hospitals across the country with heatstroke or dehydration. That is 2.8 times more than last year. The heat is particularly affecting the elderly, with one out of every three patients suffering from heatstroke being over 60.
No cooling rainfall is expected any time soon. According to the KMA, precipitation from July 21, when the soaring temperatures began, until Thursday, amounted to just 6 percent of the average over the last 30 years.
"We have not seen any rainfall since the summer monsoon season ended in late July," the KMA spokesman said. "The north-Pacific high pressure front currently covering the country is so strong that even a typhoon is unable to push it toward inland areas, causing dry conditions to persist."
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