Since July, southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality has been scorched by ceaseless sweltering days, with more than 33 days reporting temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius.
This prompted the city’s residents to seek temporary respite in underground facilities.
At around 6 p.m., many gathered at the rest area inside the Huahuiyuan subway station on Chongqing’s Line 6.
With seats, common first-aid medicine and an instant water dispenser on offer, residents could enjoy the comfort of shelter and air-conditioning, escaping their hot summer with books and board games.
The terminal station of Line 6 is located in the Beibei District, which had suffered the worst of the muggy heat recently.
On Thursday, Beibei District notched up a new record high temperature of 45 degrees Celsius at 4 p.m, ranking first among China’s 2,418 national meteorological observation stations during the same period.
By that time, over 30 districts and counties in Chongqing had reported temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.
On Thursday, Chongqing issued a red alert for high temperatures, the most severe warning in the country’s four-tier weather warning system.
It was Chongqing’s eighth red warning since the beginning of the summer.
“Chongqing always takes the lead nationwide for its high summer temperatures.
“Therefore, every summer, we would circle rest areas in local subway stations, enabling citizens to escape the blistering heat temporarily in a cool environment,’’ said He Feiying, a staffer, Chongqing Rail Transit (Group) Co., Ltd.
According to the National Climate Centre, the comprehensive intensity of the regional heatwaves that have hit China since June 13, is the strongest since 1961, the year when the country started to keep complete meteorological records.
To cope with this year’s unprecedented piping-hot weather, a total of 99 subway stations in Chongqing’s major urban districts had provided similar facilities and services for locals to help beat the heat, according to He.
“My house faces the west, making it parched by the sun in the roasting afternoon. So I’d come to the subway station every afternoon and return home after 7 p.m.,’’ said a granny surnamed Tan.
surnamed Tan who lived near the Huahuiyuan station.
Li Qing, a college student who had just ended her training course, also decided to stay at the rest area for a while before getting on the metro.
“In such a sweltering environment, merely walking about 10 minutes makes me melt,’’ said Li.
Apart from utilising public services, many urbanites also fled to nearby summer resorts like the Black Mountain Valley in Chongqing’s Wansheng economic development zone, one of the closest summer retreats to downtown Chongqing.
The scenic area had become a popular go-to place as it only takes a 2-hour drive from downtown Chongqing to reach this destination.
The elevation of the valley was up to around 2,000 meters and the temperature at night was mostly less than 27 degrees Celsius.
“When we walked inside the valley and touched the river water with fingers, we even felt a little chilled,’’ said a tourist.
“Every weekend, the valley is packed with tourists. More than 100 tents are soon rented out, far from meeting the demand.
“Most clients are young people,’’ said Hu Yuanming, a staffer of the valley’s camping site.
According to Chongqing’s municipal commission of culture and tourism, there are over 200 cultural and tourism activities on offer across the city this summer.
Whereas more than 70 tourism routes were recommended for locals keen to exchange the stifling heat for a cooler summer holiday experience.