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Climate change, extreme heatwaves hit Asia hard

People in South and Southeast Asia are bracing for more extreme heatwaves this week, prompting authorities to issue health warnings and close schools

Published: May 03, 2024 11:13 AM GMT

Updated: May 03, 2024 11:14 AM GMT

Authorities across South and Southeast Asia have issued health warnings as the regions braced for more extreme heatwaves this week. Many people have fled to parks and air-conditioned malls for relief from the heatwave.

A wave of exceptionally hot weather has blasted the region over the past week, sending mercury as high as 45 degrees Celsius. In Thailand, at least 30 people have died of heatstroke so far this year.

The Philippines announced last Sunday the suspension of in-person classes at all public schools for two days after a record-shattering day of heat in the capital Manila. In Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh, forecasters warned that temperatures could exceed 40C in the coming days as people endured searing heat and stifling humidity.

Global temperatures hit record highs last year, and the United Nations weather and climate agency said Tuesday that Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace.

A vehicle of the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) sprays water along a busy road to lower the temperature amidst a heatwave in Dhaka on April 27.

A vehicle of the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) sprays water along a busy road to lower the temperature amidst a heatwave in Dhaka on April 27. (Photo: AFP)

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Continuing with climate change, lighting strikes and other storm-related incidents killed at least 143 people in Pakistan in April. The deaths resulted from unusual heavy rain, flash floods, landslides and inclement weather that also caused collapse of houses and destruction of crops.

The Meteorological Department said the rainfall in April saw an increase of 164 percent above the normal levels in April. Pakistan is increasingly vulnerable to unpredictable weather, as well as often destructive monsoon rains that usually arrive in July.

Fishermen gather under a faulty structure along a damaged roadside, as boats are stacked near a jetty following heavy rainfall in Gwadar in Balochistan province on April 18. (Photo: AFP)

The largest death toll for April was in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where 83 people died, including 38 children, and where more than 3,500 homes have been damaged.

In 2022, one of worst floodings left hundreds of people dead, millions displaced and US$30 billion economic losses. 

Sri Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has denied allegations leveled by the country's parliamentarians that he was politicizing the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings ahead of the polls this year.

A three-day parliamentary debate on Easter Sunday attacks that concluded last Friday saw members accuse each other of responsibility for the attacks and criticize Ranjith of being politically biased ahead of presidential elections due later this year. Some alleged that the 76-year-old cardinal sought an extension from the Vatican to continue in office and fight for the families of the victims of the Easter Sunday attack.

Nuns carry photos as they pay tribute to the victims killed in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in the capital Colombo on April 21. The perpetrators are still at large. (Photo: AFP)

In a statement on Monday, Ranjith refuted all allegations including that he urged people to vote for a particular political party recently during a program that marked the fifth anniversary of deadly Easter Sunday attacks on April 21.

The 2019 suicide bombings targeted three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, killing 279 people, primarily Catholic mass-goers, and wounded over 500.

Church leaders in Kerala state of southern India sparked controversy after they met with a special envoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the national election. V K Saxena, head of the Delhi state government, called on Major Archbishop Raphael Thattil, head of the Eastern rite Syro Malabar Church, in Ernakulum last Wednesday.

Thattil is the leader of more than five million Catholics, most of them living in Kerala. The meeting took place two days before Kerala was to vote to elect the state’s 20 members to the lower house of the national parliament.

Vinai Kumar Saxena. (Photo: lg.delhi.gov.in)

Saxena also met Cardinal George Alencherry, former head of the Syro Malabar Church, and heads of other Churches. He sought the help of Church leaders to ensure victory for pro-Hindu BJP or Bharatiya Janata Party  candidates in the poll.

Kerala has never elected a BJP lawmaker to India’s 543-member lower house. Christians make up 18 percent of Kerala’s 33 million people. 

Catholics in Vietnam have voiced opposition to a government bid to construct a new hospital building on the property of a former Redemptorist monastery in the capital Hanoi that was taken by the communist regime over half a century ago.

In a statement last Friday, the Redemptorist-run Thai Ha Parish said it strongly opposes the construction next to the state-run Dong Da General Hospital. For decades, local Catholics have demanded its return.

The state-run Dong Da General Hospital stands on a former Redemptorist monastery borrowed by city authorities. (Photo: nhathothaiha.net)

The authorities, however, have claimed the property was not confiscated but borrowed. The new project, estimated to cost 10 million US Dollars was approved by the People's Committee of Hanoi City last year. Construction is expected to start this year and will be completed in two years.

The Redemptorists, who arrived in Vietnam in 1925, bought around 62000 square meter plot in 1928 and built several facilities. Following the communist takeover in 1975, the government confiscated numerous church properties. 

Church leaders and climate activists have slammed international finance agencies including the World Bank for funding fossil fuel and coal projects in the Philippines.

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An official from Catholic charity Caritas in south-central Luzon said the Church stands in solidarity with the communities that are hit by coal power projects. Father Warren Puno said the coal power project is “a matter of life and death” for communities who suffer because of it.

Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa from the Philippines takes part in a protest to urge the World Bank to stop financing fossil fuel projects in Asian nations in Washington on April 19. (Photo: Supplied)

The reaction came after the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank held their annual meetings last week in Washington to discuss debt relief and climate finance.

In the Philippines, the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank, is reported to be financing 10 coal projects. Environmentalists have lodged a series of complaints with the World Bank and other lending agencies to remind them they have a responsibility to ensure that their investments do not harm local communities. 

Former Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen has backed a proposed 1.7 billion US Dollar canal project that triggered strong opposition from neighboring Vietnam.

Hun Sen said Cambodia has the right to serve its own interests rather than others and won’t negotiate over the canal project. Funan Techo Canal is expected to traverse 180 kilometers and will divert water from the Mekong River.

Hun Sen (right), Cambodia’s president of the Senate, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting at the Senate building in Phnom Penh on April 22. Cambodia is building the Funan Techo canal project with Chinese help. (Photo: AFP)

Critics say it will drain 50 percent of the water flow from Vietnam’s southern regions in the Mekong Delta. The canal is expected to bring economic fortune to Cambodia but inflict negative impacts on Vietnam.

The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is home to more than 17.4 million people and accounts for half the country's rice production, 65 percent of aquaculture, and 17 percent of the GDP of the communist nation.

A community hospital in Chin state became the latest casualty of the Myanmar military junta's relentless attacks on civilian targets in a country torn by civil war. The Vawmm’tu cottage hospital in Vawmm village was destroyed in military airstrikes last Sunday.

Another village clinic in the state was attacked on the same day. The hospital came under another attack earlier in the week that left four patients and a visitor killed. Chin state is among the regions where fighting between the military and ethnic rebel forces has reportedly subsided.

This aerial photo taken on Oct. 29, 2021, shows smoke and fires from Thantlang, in Chin State, where more than 160 buildings have been destroyed by shelling from Junta military troops, according to local media. (Photo: AFP)

The Interim Chin National Consultative Council also appealed for help to restore the hospital, which serves thousands of people in Chin state and the neighboring Magwe region.

In a statement, the group said the junta’s attack on the hospital amounts to “a crime against humanity.” Myanmar’s in-exile National Unity Government strongly condemned the deliberate attacks, calling them a breach of the Geneva Conventions.

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing administration has slammed the United States over a bill introduced in the Senate to rename a part of the street in front of  Hong Kong’s representative office in Washington on jailed Catholic media mogul and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai. The bill seeks to rename the street as “Jimmy Lai Way.”

If passed, the proposed bill would force Hong Kong’s Economic Trade Office to change its address. A Hong Kong government spokesperson urged the US to “respect the basic norms governing international relations” and stop maliciously interfering in the internal affairs.

Teresa Lai (left), wife of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, and their daughter Claire Lai and son Lai Shun Yan arrive at the West Kowloon Court in Hong Kong on Dec. 22, 2023.  Lai has already spent more than 1,000 days in jail after his trial began on Dec. 18, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

Democracy campaigners and rights activists say Jimmy Lai has been unjustly imprisoned for his advocacy for freedom, rights, and justice in the former British colony.

Lai has been jailed since 2020 on “fabricated charges” and is currently serving a sentence of almost six years in prison under “politically motivated fraud charges.”

A court in China’s Inner Mongolia province sentenced a Protestant Christian to five years imprisonment for alleged illegal sales of Bibles on behalf of a house Church not affiliated with a state-run body.

The Hohhot Huimin District Court in the provincial capital Hohhot found Ban Yanhong guilty of “illegal business operations” for selling Bibles to the local Christian community.

Chinese Christians join a religious procession with the Bible in this undated image. The Communist-ruled country is among the nations where Christians face more severe forms of persecution. (Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

Ban is among ten Christians arrested in April 2021 for distributing Bibles among Christians in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northern China.

They denied any wrongdoing saying that they purchased the legally printed Bibles from an organization in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.

Their prosecutor argued that Bibles are “legal” and that selling them did not constitute a crime as per Chinese law.

The 2022 International Religious Freedom report from the US State Department ranks China as one of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world.

Christian group, Open Doors, ranked China 19th among 50 nations globally where it was most difficult to be a Christian in 2023.

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1 Comments on this Story
Thantk you for the world news. good God Bless you always

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