China issued its highest-level heat alert for northern parts of the country on Friday as the capital baked in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
A day earlier Beijing logged its hottest June day since records began with the mercury edging up to 41.1C, breaking a record set in 1961.
The city is accustomed to sweltering summers but temperatures across China have been unusually high in recent months, with scientists saying the heat is being exacerbated by climate change.
On Friday morning, 185 red alerts were issued across swathes of northern and eastern China including Beijing, the nearby city of Tianjin and the bordering provinces of Hebei and Shandong.
The red warning is the highest in a four-tier system.
It is the first time since 2014 that the red alert has been used in Beijing, according to government weather services.
Many neighboring areas had already been on a red alert by Thursday.
“This weather is not human and it is only the month of June!” wrote one user on the online platform Weibo, echoing numerous other posts.
On the streets of Beijing, pedestrians were seen wearing masks, hats and visors to protect themselves from the sun.
Along the city’s canals, some sought an escape from the heat by splashing around in the water.
In the coastal province of Shandong, which borders the Yellow Sea, the temperature reached 43C on Thursday, according to China’s meteorological service.
Local media reported that 17 weather stations around the region broke temperature records.
The severe heat is expected to persist in northern and eastern parts for at least eight days, forecasters warned.