TOKYO, Japan — Japan recorded its highest temperature ever Monday as a deadly heat wave continued to grip a wide swath of the country and nearby South and North Korea.
The mercury hit 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) in Kumagaya, a city in Saitama prefecture about 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. That broke the previous record of 41.0 C in Ekawasaki on the island of Shikoku on Aug. 12, 2013.
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Two lingering high pressure systems have trapped warm and humid air above the region, bringing record-high temperatures for nearly two weeks. More than 40 people have died in Japan and about 10 in South Korea.
“It is so hot these days that I cannot figure out whether I am in (South Korea) or in Southeast Asia,” said Kim Sung-hee, a student in downtown Seoul, where the temperature rose to 35.7 C (96 F).
Ten people have died in South Korea of heatstroke and other heat-related causes this summer, seven of them last week, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. About 1,040 people have fallen ill because of hot weather from May 20 to July 21, an increase of 61 percent over the same period last year, it said.
South Korea’s highest-ever morning low was recorded in the city of Gangneung, where the temperature was 31 C (88 F) at 6:45 a.m. The morning low in Seoul was 29.2 C (84.6 F), a record for the country’s capital, according to South Korea’s weather agency.
The mercury hit 39.9 C (103.8 F) in the southeastern town of Hayang, the highest temperature in the country so far this year.
In North Korea, residents fanned themselves on crowded trolleys or protected themselves from the sun with brightly colored parasols as temperatures in Pyongyang, the capital, reached 34 C (93.2 F). Weather reports said higher temperatures were recorded on the country’s eastern coast.