Thai authorities issue extreme heat warnings for dozens of provinces


Thai authorities on Saturday warned residents across large swathes of country, including the capital Bangkok, to avoid going outdoors due to extreme heat.

Parts of Asia are reporting extreme heat this month, with record-breaking temperatures seen in some countries. In Bangladesh and parts of India, extreme heat is leading to surge in power demand, causing power cuts and shortages for millions of people.

In the Bagna district of Bangkok, the temperature reached 42 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit), while the heat index - which includes relative humidity and measures what the temperature feels like - hit a record 54 C (129 F), according to the meteorological department. Authorities warned residents to avoid outdoor activities and be wary of the danger of heat stroke.

"Sometimes, I take refuge in the 7-11 convenience store... to escape the heat," Amporn Supasert, 67, a grilled chicken vendor in Bangkok, said.  Thailand's department of disaster prevention and mitigation said that temperatures will exceed 40 C in at least 28 provinces on Saturday.

Recent extreme heat has smashed electricity consumption records, with the country consuming more than 39,000 megawatts on April 6, surpassing the previous record of 32,000 megawatts in April last year, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.  "What is happening right now is caused by climate change, influencing abnormal (weather) and a phenomenon that is called extreme weather," Mathinee Yucharoen, a researcher of coastal oceanography and climate change at Prince of Songkhla University, told Reuters.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um,  Juarawee Kittisilpa and Napat Wesshasartar