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Heatstroke in Thailand kills 61 people since the start of 2024, more than all of 2023

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Thailand’s northeast – the agricultural heartland – saw the highest number of deaths, the ministry said.

Scientists have long warned human-induced climate change will produce more frequent, longer and more intense heatwaves.

While the El Nino phenomenon is helping drive this year’s exceptionally warm weather, Asia is also warming faster than the global average, according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization.

A Chinese tourist uses a handheld electric fan to cool from the heat amid hot weather at the Temple of Dawn, or Wat Arun, in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: EPA-EFE

Apichart Vachiraphan, deputy of Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, warned people with underlying medical conditions to limit their time outdoors.

The kingdom this year experienced a delay in its monsoon season, with sweltering hot weather lasting longer than normal.

Storms have hit parts of the kingdom this week, lowering temperatures but bringing warnings from the authorities of potential flash flooding.

In April, the kingdom recorded a temperature of 44.2 degrees Celsius (111.6 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded in the northern province of Lampang – just shy of the all-time national record of 44.6 degrees hit last year.

An island in southern Thailand was closed on Thursday after the discovery of extensive coral bleaching, the national parks office said.

A tourist dressed in Thai traditional rented costume drinks water during hot weather at the Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: EPA-EFE

Bleaching, which occurs when algae that live inside corals are expelled, is usually caused by higher than normal ocean temperatures and increased ultraviolet radiation.

Corals can recover from bleaching over time, once only temperatures fall and conditions in the ocean return to normal.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) said Pling Island and the coral reefs around Sirinart National Park in Phuket would be temporarily closed due to extensive coral bleaching caused by rising seawater temperatures.

The department is also monitoring national parks at Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Chumphon, Koh Surin, Phang Nga Bay, the Phi Phi islands and Lanta.

The news comes after the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned last month that the world is currently experiencing its second major coral bleaching event in 10 years.

02:27

Southeast Asian heatwave is killing Thailand’s lucrative durian industry

Southeast Asian heatwave is killing Thailand’s lucrative durian industry

Reef systems from Australia to Florida are struggling following months of record-breaking ocean heat, the NOAA said.

Park closures occur periodically in Thailand, which was visited by 28 million tourists in 2023, many of them coming to enjoy the country’s pristine beaches.

In 2018 Maya Bay, the Thai island made famous by Hollywood film “The Beach”, was shut for more than four months to allow its coral and sea life to recover after it was exhausted by hordes of tourists.

Scientists have long warned human-induced climate change will produce more frequent, longer and more intense heatwaves.

While the El Nino phenomenon is helping drive this year’s exceptionally warm weather, Asia is also warming faster than the global average, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation.

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