Record high in Japan as heat wave grips the region

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The temperature in a city north of Tokyo reached 41.1°C on Monday, the highest ever recorded in Japan, as a deadly heat wave gripped a wide swath of the country and nearby South Korea.

The record was set in Kumagaya, a city in Saitama prefecture that is about 65km northwest of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

A lingering high pressure system has brought record-high temperatures to the region for more than a week, killing more than 40 people in Japan and 10 in South Korea.

Thousands of people in Japan have been rushed to hospitals with heat stroke symptoms in the more than weeklong heat wave. Kyodo News agency has tallied more than 40 deaths in Japan. Many of the victims have been elderly people who were not using air conditioning.

In South Korea, 10 people have died of heatstroke and other heat-related causes this summer. Seven of them died last week, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday. About 1 040 people have fallen ill because of the heat from May 20 to July 21, an increase of 61% over the same period of last year, it said.

South Korea’s highest-ever morning low was recorded in the city of Gangneung, where the temperature was 31°C at 06:45. The morning low in Seoul was 29.2°C, the highest-ever in the country’s capital, according to South Korea’s weather agency.

The mercury hit 39.9°C in the southeastern town of Hayang, the highest recorded in the country so far this year.

Authorities in Japan warned people to stay inside and use air conditioning.