Japan has declared the current heatwave sweeping the country as a natural disaster, as the death toll continues to rise – currently sitting at 65 deaths in the past week.
A spokesperson for the Japanese weather agency said the country was facing “unprecedented levels of heat” in some areas, with forecasters predicting no signs of it abating soon.
More than 22,000 people, nearly half of them elderly, have been admitted to hospital with heatstroke during the heatwave.
Temperatures of 41.1C (106F) were recorded in the city of Kumagaya on Monday, the highest ever in Japan. Central Tokyo reached temperatures over 40C for the first time too.
The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that temperatures exceeding 35C were expected to continue until early August.
Spokesman Motoaki Takekawa said the heatwave was “a threat to life and we recognise it as a natural disaster”.
With less than half of public schools in Japan equipped with air conditioning, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the summer holidays could be extended to protect pupils.
He told a news conference on Tuesday: “As a record heatwave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren.”
The heatwave closely followed torrential rain that caused severe flooding and landslides in the west of Japan.