Thousands in heatwave-hit Bangladesh pray for rain

DHAKA  -  Thousands of Bangladeshis gathered to pray for rain on Wednesday in the middle of an extreme heatwave that prompted authorities to shut down schools around the country. Extensive scientific research has found climate change is causing heat waves to become longer, more frequent and more intense.  Bangladesh’s weather bureau says that average maximum temperatures in the capital Dhaka over the past week have been 4-5 degrees Celsius (7.2-9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 30-year average for the same period.  Muslim worshippers gathered in city mosques and rural fields to pray for relief from the scorching heat, which forecasters expect to continue for at least another week.

“Praying for rains is a tradition of our Prophet. We repented for our sins and prayed for His blessings for rains,” Muhammad Abu Yusuf, an Islamic cleric who led a morning prayer service for 1,000 people in central Dhaka, told AFP.    “Life has become unbearable due to lack of rains,” he said. “Poor people are suffering immensely.”  Police said similarly sized prayer services were held in several other parts of Bangladesh. The country’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, issued a statement calling its members to join the prayer services planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

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