Bangladesh defies heatwave alert extension, reopens schools amid worsening climate crisis

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Average maximum temperatures in Dhaka have been 4-5 degrees Celsius higher than the 30-year average over the past week. Despite a heatwave prompting a nationwide classroom shutdown last weekend, millions of students have returned to their schools across Bangladesh. The reopening of schools came as authorities issued another heatwave alert for three more days, marking the country’s longest heatwave in 75 years.

The heatwave, now at its 29th day, has reached a record length since records began in 1948, according to meteorologist Shaheenul Islam. The season’s highest temperature of 42.7 degrees Celsius was recorded in Chuadanga district last Friday, with Dhaka reaching a maximum of 38.2 degrees. The average maximum temperatures in Dhaka have been significantly higher than the 30-year average for the same period.

Climate change has been identified as a key factor leading to longer, more frequent, and more intense heatwaves. Students returned to school on Sunday, with worried parents accompanying them amidst the intense heat. The recent shutdown had kept around 32 million students at home.

As the heatwave continues, the weather bureau has predicted at least three more days of extreme heat. Physicians at local hospitals report a rise in cases of heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke, dehydration, and respiratory issues. Relief may come with expected rain after Thursday, but the impact of climate change is expected to lead to more severe heatwaves in the future.

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