World

Rail-bending heat wave kills 13 in Japan

Japan sweltered through its hottest day ever Thursday, with the heat wave claiming 13 lives over the past week and driving worries of electricity shortages.
Japan sweltered through its hottest day everThursday, with the heat wave claiming 13 lives over the past weekand driving worries of electricity shortages.
A Tokyo man wipes the sweat from his forehead as he waits at a crossing on Thursday. ((Koji Sasahara/Associated Press))

The mercury hit a record 40.9 C inGifu prefecture in centralJapan and Saitama prefecture near Tokyo, the Japanese meteorological agency said.

That record inched ahead of the previous 40.8 C high, recorded on July 25, 1933, in Yamagata City.

The blistering heat bent rail tracks out of shape and led to a slew of false calls to fire departmentsbecause fire alarms were set off by the high temperatures, according to news reports.

Among the victims of the heat wave was a 13-year-old Tokyo boy who collapsed after practising basketball in his junior high school gym for three hours Tuesday. He died on Thursday of heat stroke.

The other victims were mostly elderly and also died of heat stroke.

Tokyo Electrical Power Co. warned of a power shortage as people cranked up air conditioners.

The company is already struggling to keep up with demand and resorted to firing up old thermal power stations after a strong earthquake in mid-July ravaged its largest nuclear power reactor.

With files from the Associated Press