China turns to shelters to beat the heat


Beijing - A southwest Chinese city renowned as a "furnace" during the summer has opened up its warren of old air raid shelters to help people beat the heat, state media said on Tuesday.

Chongqing, China's World War Two capital, would be able to accommodate 10 000 people in the shelters, which are aimed at low-income residents, Xinhua news agency said.

"We spent about 500 000 yuan (about R470 000) refurbishing the shelters - putting in tables and benches, tap water and book stands, so that the needy who cannot afford air conditioning at home can spend the summer more comfortably," it quoted Tang Zhiming, director of the Chongqing Municipal Air Defence Shelters Office, as saying.

"Money-making activities will be banned at the refurbished shelters - we want ordinary people to be able to go there and cool off free of charge," Tang added.

Last summer, densely populated and heavily industrial Chongqing sweltered in temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius, compounding a drought and forcing schools to postpone the start of the new term.

Many Chinese cities have air raid shelters, a legacy of the country's Communist heyday when Beijing feared air raids or even nuclear strikes from the United States or the Soviet Union.


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