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Bangladesh to reopen schools despite heatwave

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BANGLADESH will reopen schools from next week despite a brutal heatwave sweeping the country that has seen temperatures soar to 43 degrees Celsius (109°F), officials said on Thursday (25).

The severe conditions had forced authorities to close schools this week.

The education ministry, however, will reopen schools despite the Meteorological Department warning that there was no end in sight for the heat.

“All kinds of preparations have been made to open educational institutions from next week. Students will be kept away from extracurricular activities. The daily assembly will remain closed until further orders,” an education ministry official said.

Scientists have said climate change is contributing to more frequent, severe, and longer heatwaves during summer months.

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Authorities have been encouraging residents to stay indoors and drink water.

Those who work outdoors like labourers and rickshaw drivers say the brutal heat has become extremely challenging.

“It is becoming very hard to pull a rickshaw. But we can’t stay home. What will we eat then?” Mohammad Zamir, a rickshaw puller said.

The UN children’s agency said it was “urging parents to be extra vigilant in keeping their children hydrated and safe” through the heatwave.

“The severity of this heatwave underscores the urgent need for action to protect children from the worsening impacts of climate change,” UNICEF said in a statement.

Temperatures across Bangladesh have reached more than 42C (108F) in the past week.

“April is usually the hottest month in Bangladesh. But this April has been one of the hottest since the country’s independence (in 1971),” said government forecaster Tariful Newaz Kabir.

Kabir said fewer rainstorms than average for the period had contributed to the heat.

“We expect the high temperature will remain until the end of this month,” he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of Bangladeshis gathered to pray for rain on Wednesday (24) in the middle of an extreme heatwave that prompted authorities to shut down schools around the country.

Bangladesh’s weather bureau said that average maximum temperatures in the capital Dhaka over the past week have been 4-5 degrees Celsius (7.2-9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 30-year average for the same period.

Muslim worshippers gathered in city mosques and rural fields to pray for relief from the scorching heat, which forecasters expect to continue for at least another week.

Hospitals in the southern coastal district of Patuakhali had recorded local outbreaks of diarrhoea due to higher temperatures and the resulting increased salinity of local water sources, said state medical officer Bhupen Chandra Mondal.

(Agencies)

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