An ongoing heat wave in southern Japan has killed 14 people as of Tuesday, July 17. The heat wave is striking at the worst possible time, as the country is dealing with the aftermath of horrific floods and landslides, killing 210 people last week.

Record-High Temperatures Make Rescue Operations Difficult

According to the World Meteorological Organization, a heat wave is when temperatures are at least five degrees greater than the average temperature for more than five consecutive days. In Japan, current temperatures are between four to seven degrees Celsius higher than usual.

In some locations, temperatures reached a remarkable high of 39 degrees Celsius––102 degrees Fahrenheit. Inland locations throughout Japan, including Kurashiki City in Okayama and Asakita Ward in Hiroshima, recorded the highest temperatures this year, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency.

Heat-Related Illnesses Also Hit Aid Workers

With the brutal heat bearing down, thousands have sought medical treatment for heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Next to the victims, first responders, disaster relief workers and humanitarian aid workers are at great risk of heat-related illnesses. Also volunteers are affected. CNN reported that out of 33 people who sought medical help for heat-related conditions in Hiroshima, three were volunteers.

Extended working hours in times of crisis, limited access to drinking water and shade, lack of heat acclimation of workers as well as complicating personal health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease in first responders and other workers can all contribute to an elevated risk potential.

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