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Rising temperatures scorch Egypt’s rural poor

August brought a stifling heat wave to Egypt, where the short-staffed medical centers of small villages were overrun by patients and officials downplayed the number of deaths.
An Egyptian farmer removes pieces of cracked earth from his fields in the village near Balqis, 260 km (162 miles) northeast of  Cairo June 14, 2008. REUTERS/Nasser Nuri   (EGYPT) - RTX6XNE

Ahmed Rizq watched the mercury in his thermometer rise: 118, 127 … 131 degrees Fahrenheit. It rose higher than he had ever seen it go before. And then it stayed there — for more than three weeks. Rizq had lived in Aswan in the very south of Egypt his whole life; he could take a little heat. But August 2015 was a new kind of hot. It was the sort of hot that could kill you.

By Aug. 10, the Ministry of Health had begun emailing flyers to hospitals all around the country, encouraging citizens to stay at home if possible and avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. But those flyers never reached the desert village of Ladid. Even if they had, they wouldn’t have made a difference, said Rizq, a public health researcher and human rights lawyer for the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.

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