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Philippines heat to reach ‘danger’ levels, hundreds of schools suspend classes

The country’s heat index measures what a temperature feels like, taking into account humidity.

The index was expected to reach the “danger” level of 42 degrees Celsius in Manila on Tuesday and 43 degrees on Wednesday, with similar levels in a dozen other areas of the country, the state weather forecaster said.

The actual highest recorded temperature for the metropolis on Tuesday was 35.7 degrees, below the record of 38.6 degrees reached on May 17, 1915.

Local officials across the main island of Luzon, the central islands, and the southern island of Mindanao suspended in-person classes or shortened school hours to avoid the hottest part of the day, education ministry officials said.

The Department of Education was unable to provide an exact number of schools affected.

March, April and May are typically the driest months of the year for swathes of the tropical country. This year, conditions have been exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Primary and secondary schools in Quezon, the most populous part of the city, were ordered to shut, while schools in other areas were given the option by local officials to shift to remote learning.

Some schools in Manila shortened class hours to avoid the hottest part of the day.

A heat index of between 42 and 51 degrees can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion, with heatstroke “probable with continued exposure”, the weather forecaster said in an advisory.

Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are also possible at 33 to 41 degrees, according to the forecaster.

The orders affected hundreds of schools in the Mindanao provinces of Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, as well as the cities of Cotabato, General Santos and Koronadal, Zamboanga regional education ministry spokeswoman Rea