Soaring temperatures lead the Iraqi government to declare its first-ever government "heat day" on Monday, sending public sector workers home from across much of the country.
As the Christian Science Monitor is reporting, temperatures across Iraq surpassed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the mercury had reached similar levels before, this year's scorching heat coincided with the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, when when observant Muslims refrain from eating or drinking water from dawn until dusk, and many of those fasting will go more than 14 hours without water.
“The Council of Ministers has announced today, Monday, as an official holiday in central and southern Iraq, due to the high rise of temperatures, and in order to protect the lives and safety of citizens,” the Aswat al-Iraq news agency quotes a Secretariat-General as saying.
Closures applied to government offices in the Baghdad region, Diyala province in central Iraq and all southern provinces — including Iraq’s second-largest city, Basra, the Washington Post is reporting.
"In some cases, residents said they fought the heat and power shortages Sunday night by sleeping half-naked in pools of water thrown on the floors of their bedrooms," the Post notes.
The high temperatures also lead to fuel station shortages and proved taxing to the Iraq's fragile national electricity grid. Though Iraqi officials say the electrical grid provides eight hours of electricity a day to residents, most receive only four or five hours a day -- a fact which has featured prominently among Iraq protestors, who have blamed the continued shortages on corruption, the Monitor is reporting.
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