Asia shivers: All bundled up, from Bangkok to Hanoi



People in Bangkok all wrapped up as the Thai capital awoke to a chilly 17.5 deg C yesterday. Many parts of Asia are feeling the chill as a cold wave from China travels south.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

(THE STRAITS TIMES) Tourists and residents in Bangkok bundled up as the temperature in the Thai capital dipped to 17.5 deg C yesterday, with many regions in Asia shivering in unusual cold weather.

The cause of it? A cold wave from China making its way south.

The mercury dipped further elsewhere in the kingdom, including up north in Chiang Rai province, which recorded 8.6 deg C after daybreak.

The Thai Meteorological Department has predicted minimum temperatures of between 18 deg C and 20 deg C for the week in Bangkok.

Experts have warned of severe weather changes in Thailand this year, with the rainy season arriving later and a drought that will continue to affect farms across the country.

In Vietnam, temperatures in Hanoi dropped to 6 deg C at night over the weekend, which state-run media said was the coldest weather the country has experienced for two decades.

Weather-related deaths were reported in Japan and Taiwan, which registered a low of 4 deg C over the weekend, the coldest in 44 years. At least 85 deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease were reported in Taiwan following the sudden drop in temperature, according to the BBC.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled across the region, with 60,000 holidaymakers stranded in South Korea.

In Hong Kong, primary schools and kindergartens were closed after temperatures plunged to a 60-year low of 3.3 deg C.

But in Singapore, it was warm and rainy, with temperatures expected to average between 25 deg C and 34 deg C this week.

Professor Jason Cohen of the National University of Singapore's civil and environmental engineering department said the cold snaps sweeping the North American and East Asian regions are "statistically highly unusual", and may be linked to climate change or the El Nino phenomenon, although there is no solid evidence yet.

But Singapore is unlikely to be affected as it is well protected by the ocean, he added.