Shanghai mercury "will soar past 40 C"

12:52, August 14, 2010      

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The combo photo shows people try to protect themselves from heat in different ways in Ningbo, east China's Zhejiang province, Aug. 13, 2010. The highest temperature in Ningbo topped 39.5 degrees Celsius on Thursday. (Xinhua/Gong Guorong)

The meteorological center on Friday morning forecast that for the first time in the city's history, the maximum temperature this summer will soar past 40 C.

Rumors are widespread that the country's met department has always been reluctant to admit to temperatures higher than 40 C so as not to pay high-temperature allowances.

Shanghai's meteorological center said the temperature on Friday was 31 C to 40 C, while raising its orange high-temperature alarm to red, the highest level.

Meanwhile, the national meteorological center said most southern regions will not see cooler days any time soon, with temperatures in some parts of Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces set to soar above 40 C.

Chongqing municipality recorded its highest temperature this year, 42.4 C, on Tuesday, while a record 56 counties in Jiangxi province issued a high-temperature alert on Wednesday.

Rumors are rife on China's online forums that the met never admits to temperatures above 40 C to avoid high-temperature allowances, paid leave and other benefits that workers are entitled to on extremely hot days.

"This year, there have been a number of officially 38 C and 39 C days, which are actually hotter than 40 C. I think the meteorological centers are definitely tampering with the figures because companies have to pay allowances to workers once the mercury hits 40 C," said Wang Yin, 26, an office clerk in Shanghai.

"I carried a thermometer with me on Wednesday and I recorded the temperature as 43 C when they were saying it was 36 C."

According to statistics from the Shanghai meteorological bureau, there have been 13 days hotter than 37 C but cooler than 40 C this year.

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