Farm animals dropping dead from heat wave

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Farm animals dropping dead from heat wave

The enduring heat wave is killing the elderly, sending hundreds to the hospital and wiping out chickens and other farm animals.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported yesterday that 418,585 farm animals died due to the heat since late last month.

Chickens are particularly vulnerable to the heat and 401,272 died. In addition, 17,200 ducks and 113 pigs have died.

Nonghyup Property & Casualty Insurance reported yesterday that 132 claims for over 250,000 animal deaths have been submitted in the past two weeks.

The heat claimed the lives of four people last week, bringing the number of people who died from exposure to heat to 11 for the year.

A 47-year-old male was found dead Wednesday in his house in Yesan County, South Chungcheong, after consuming alcohol.

A 56-year-old female collapsed Thursday while walking on a street in Seosan, also in South Chungcheong, and was transported to a nearby hospital but later passed away. One casualty was reported Sunday from Gwangju, where a 72-year-old male was found dead in his house.

Seoul has been under a heat-wave warning since Wednesday, its first since the system was introduced by the Korea Meteorological Administration in 2008. A warning is issued when the temperature is expected to hit or exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) two days in a row. On Sunday, Seoul experienced an 18-year high of 36.7 degrees Celsius.

The country’s electricity reserves went below 3 million kilowatts, considered a minimum safe level, at 2:15 p.m. for over 10 minutes yesterday. They went below the 3 million kilowatt level twice on Monday, causing the government to beg the public to use less power. The Korea Electric Power Corporation cut off power to 230 factories.

The electricity reserves dipped to their lowest level Monday since the massive blackout last Sept. 15.

Meanwhile, a total of 666 patients nationwide as of Sunday have been reported to have received medical treatment for the heat since June 1.

According to the Korean Environment Institute, the elderly are most vulnerable to the heat and each major city has different thresholds based on demographics and living conditions of residents. Seoul’s threshold, for example, is 27.8 degrees Celsius and the institute warns that the situation is becoming dangerous when the mercury breaks through the threshold two days in a row.

A nationwide alert for voluntary energy cuts will be issued when the reserves go below 2 million kilowatts and power will be cut temporarily when the figure drops under 1 million kilowatts, according to the government, to avert the kind of blackout that occurred last September.

By Kang Jin-kyu, Lee Sun-min [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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