KOREA - The sweltering heat that has blanketed the country this week is unlikely to ease up any time soon, putting authorities on high alert for casualties and damage.
At least six have died of heat stroke and hundreds have been rushed to hospital as of Friday, as the mercury soared to as high as 37 degrees Celsius for the past few days.
Power consumption skyrocketed, pulling reserves down to a dangerously low level and prompting authorities to switch to emergency mode. Livestock farmers are battling the heat wave too, as more and more chickens and other cattle die under the scorching heat.
Most parts of the country remained under a heat wave advisory or warning Friday, with Gyeongsan in North Gyeongsang Province reporting the highest temperature of 37 degrees. Temperatures in Seoul reached 33 degrees at noon.
A stubborn high-pressure system is the culprit behind the scorching heat wave, the national weather agency says.
"North Pacific high pressure has blanketed the entire country and is unlikely to let up any time soon," the Korea Meteorological Administration said.
The heat wave will continue throughout the weekend, with daily highs expected to range from 31 to 37 degrees in major cities, the KMA said. Tropical nights, in which the mercury stays above 25 degrees from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., are also expected to continue.
No rain is forecast until the middle of next week.
The KMA advises people, particularly the elderly, to keep out of direct sunlight and stay at home as much as possible, to avoid heat stroke.