As the sun rises over Asia, residents wake up to a bitter cold that has enveloped the continent. From Japan to China, and South Korea to Afghanistan, freezing temperatures are taking a toll on the health and livelihoods of millions of people.
In Afghanistan, the cold snap has claimed 124 lives so far, with temperatures dropping as low as -34 degrees Celsius in some areas. This has hit the country in the middle of a severe economic crisis, and the death of 77,000 livestock in the past nine days threatens to deepen the country’s food insecurity.
China is also experiencing some of the coldest temperatures in recent years, with the northernmost city of Mohe recording a record low of -53 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
Japan has been hit by heavy snowfall and strong winds, causing disruptions to daily life. Toyota Motor Corp has suspended the second shift at all 14 factories in Japan due to the weather, while domestic airlines have canceled 450 flights and 490 highway areas have been blocked. The strong winds may have also played a role in the sinking of a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship between western Japan and South Korea’s Jeju island.
In South Korea, cold wave alerts have been issued for most of the country, with morning lows dropping to minus 16.4 Celsius in Seoul and to minus 25.5 degrees Celcius in the northern county of Cheorwon. The harsh conditions have disrupted flights, with over 500 flights to and from the South Korean tourist island of Jeju being canceled.
As the cold snap continues to sweep across Asia, residents are bracing for more freezing temperatures and disruptions to daily life. The death toll and economic losses continue to rise, and it remains to be seen when the bitter cold will finally release its grip on the continent.