Heat wave hits Iraq—and sparks begin to fly

phys.org | 8/1/2018 | Staff
ditranian (Posted by) Level 3
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Hospital ventilators shut down, football matches with obligatory water breaks and food spoiling in fridges without power: Iraq's notorious summer has arrived.

As one of the hottest countries in the world with around half of its terrain covered in desert, Iraq is no stranger to stiflingly hot summers.

Standards - June - Degrees - Celsius - Fahrenheit

But even by its own standards, this June has been a sizzler—averaging a daily 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit), compared to around 40 in previous years.

Across the country, Iraqis have sprung into usual routines to cope: wrapping outside door handles in tape to stop them getting too hot in the sun, keeping a change of clothes in the car, or stepping fully-clothed into curbside showers to cool off.

Hours - Businesses - Closing - Advantage - Cooler

Working hours have changed, with businesses opening and closing later to take advantage of the cooler evenings.

Baghdad residents shutter themselves away during the searing afternoons, then re-emerge around midnight or later for a belated dinner in the manageable 35-degree heat.

Air - Units - Strain - Country - Power

Inside, they crank up air conditioning units, putting extra strain on the country's dilapidated power grid and causing the much-despised outages that sparked massive protests last year.

In Dhi Qar, a province south of Baghdad, the cuts have hit public hospitals, said provincial health chief Abdel Hassan al-Jaberi.

People - Hospital - Electricity - Times - Day

"People are hesitating to come to the hospital because the electricity is cutting 17 times per day," he told AFP.

Private clinics purchase their own generators to keep machines running during the outages, but these remain unaffordable for many of Iraq's 40 million citizens.

People - Groceries - Power

Some people are buying fewer groceries, fearing they'll spoil if it's too hot and the power goes out.

"Everyone is buying less," said Abu Haydar, a shopkeeper in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar's largest city.

Residents - Hours - Electricity - Day - Supplements

Like most residents, he gets up to 12 hours of state-provided electricity per day and supplements them by paying for a generator so his wares don't go bad.

Further south...
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