77 people have died and tens of thousands more have been sent to hospitals across Japan as a heatwave continues to sweep the country.
Temperatures reached a record high of 41.1 degrees Celsius (105.8 Farenheit) on Monday in Kumagaya, a city northwest of Tokyo in the Saitama prefecture, according to Kyodo News. Since July 9, over 30,000 people have been checked at Japanese hospitals and many of the fatalities were reportedly elderly citizens.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency said at a news conference Monday that the scorching temperatures were a “threat to life.”
“We recognize it as a natural disaster,” a spokesperson said.
Extreme heat is expected to continue for two more weeks, with forecasted weather set to exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 Farenheit) on Tuesday in several prefectures, including Tokyo and Saitama. The agency issued a warning asking the public to stay hydrated and take preventive measures against heatstroke.
The heat wave has persisted following torrential rains which triggered landslides and heavy flooding in western Japan.
Over 200 people were killed, Japan’s highest death toll caused by rainfall in decades.