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Thailand's north and the capital Bangkok are suffering from a heatwave. The Thai Meteorological Office is forecasting air temperatures of around 40 degrees for March and April. Picture: Adobe Stock

Thailand groans under heatwave

The temperature in Thailand could rise to over 50 degrees several times in the coming weeks. The heat poses great dangers, especially for chronically ill people, the elderly and the overweight.

Parts of Thailand have been sweating for days under an unusual heatwave for the time of year. The northern regions and the capital, Bangkok, have been particularly affected. It is set to get worse: According to forecasts by the local weather office, temperatures in all parts of the country will exceed the 40-degree mark at least some of the time in both March and April.

The "Bangkok Post" newspaper quoted Kornravee Sitthichitvapak, the director general of the authority, as saying that the summer, which began in Thailand at the end of February, would be up to two degrees higher than normal. She made it clear that it is not only the air temperature that needs to be taken into account, but also the heat index, which describes the temperature.

"The summer temperatures measured in Thailand have never reached 50 degrees, explained Sitthichitvapak. However, it feels like the temperatures will exceed the dreaded 50-degree mark in the coming weeks.

Atchara Nithiapinyasakul, Director General of the Ministry of Health, said that the heat was particularly dangerous for chronically ill people, the elderly and people who are overweight. If the heat index is 42 to 51.9 degrees, outdoor activities could lead to cramps and exhaustion and increase the risk of heat stroke, she said.

"When the heat index exceeds 52 degrees, it is classified as extremely dangerous. Prolonged exposure to heat of this intensity leads to a very high risk of heatstroke," she warned. This is when the body's entire temperature regulation system breaks down.