Bacon fries on pavement as heat wave grips China

A child demonstrates Wednesday how raw shrimp and an egg are fried in a pan on a manhole cover on a hot summer day in Jinan in east China’s Shandong province. A heat wave in China— the worst in at least 140 years in some parts — has left dozens of people dead and pushed thermometers above 104 degrees in at least 40 cities and counties, mostly in the south and east.

A child demonstrates Wednesday how raw shrimp and an egg are fried in a pan on a manhole cover on a hot summer day in Jinan in east China’s Shandong province. A heat wave in China— the worst in at least 140 years in some parts — has left dozens of people dead and pushed thermometers above 104 degrees in at least 40 cities and counties, mostly in the south and east. Photo by The Associated Press.

SHANGHAI (AP) — It’s been so hot in China that people are grilling shrimp on manhole covers, eggs are hatching without incubators and a highway billboard has mysteriously caught fire by itself.

The heat wave — the worst in at least 140 years in some parts — has left dozens of people dead and pushed thermometers above 104 degrees in at least 40 cities and counties, mostly in the south and east. Authorities for the first time have declared the heat a “level 2” weather emergency— a label normally invoked for typhoons and flooding.

“It is just hot! Like in a food steamer!” 17-year-old student Xu Sichen said outside the doors of a shopping mall in the southern financial hub of Shanghai while her friend He Jiali, also 17, complained that her mobile phone had in recent days turned into a “grenade.”

“I’m so worried that the phone will explode while I’m using it,” He said.

Extreme heat began hitting Shanghai and several eastern and southern provinces in early July and is expected to grip much of China through mid-August.

Shanghai set its record high temperature of 105 on July 26, and Thursday’s heat marked the city’s 28th day above 95. At least 10 people died of heat stroke in the city over the past month, including a 64-year-old Taiwanese sailor, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Climate scientists usually caution that they can’t attribute a single weather event like the Chinese heat wave to man-made global warming. But “human-caused warming sure ups the odds of heat waves like this one,” said Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona. The Chinese heat wave “gives a very real face to what global warming is all about,” he wrote in an email.

The highest temperature overall was recorded in the eastern city of Fenghua, which recorded its historic high of 108.9 F on July 24.

On Tuesday, the director of the China Meteorological Administration activated a “level 2” emergency response to the persistent heat wave. This level requires around-the-clock staffing, the establishment of an emergency command center and frequent briefings.

Some Chinese in heat-stricken cities have been cooking shrimps, eggs and bacon in skillets placed directly on manhole covers or on road pavement that has in some cases heated up to 140 degrees.

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