Photo/Illutration The dry riverbed of the Jialing River in Chongqing, inland China, on Aug. 25 (Ryo Inoue)

CHONGQING, China--China is experiencing its hottest heat wave ever, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees for over a month mainly in the middle and downstream areas of the Yangtze River.

The lack of rain has also put the nation in its most severe drought in decades, causing rivers here to dry up and affecting hydropower generation.

The dried and cracked riverbed that suddenly appeared is attracting tourists.

“Even if the temperature exceeds 40 degrees, it usually occurs only for two or three days in one summer,” said a 48-year-old woman who visited here on Aug. 25 with her friend. “This year, however, it has taken place for more than a month.”

An Asahi Shimbun reporter walked along the dry riverbed of the Yangtze River basin.

The thermometer on his smartphone showed 42 degrees, exceeding the highest temperature ever recorded in Japan.

The unprecedented heat made the reporter feel dizzy, and there were water droplets inside his mask.

China's Ministry of Water Resources said precipitation in the Yangtze River basin has been about half that of a normal year since July. It is the lowest since 1961, when statistics started being kept.

“I have never seen the river bottom bare like this in my life,” the woman visiting the river on Aug. 25 said.

The Jialing River, a tributary of the Yangtze River that is a tourist attraction because of its confluence with the Yangtze River, has dried up, with the riverbed appearing in some areas.

The main resource of China’s inland region is hydroelectric power generation, but the record low rainfall and intense heat is taking a toll. The region is suffering a serious power shortage.

On the same day, the city’s subway stations were dark. Some lights in the passageways were turned off to conserve electricity.

A place for people to take shelter from the intense heat outside was set up in a station. Some people were lying on the floor around noon.

The ministry surmised that the blistering temperatures and low rainfall in the Yangtze River basin are the result of global warming and the La Nina phenomenon.

"Water shortages may continue until September in most of the middle and downstream areas of the Yangtze River,” the ministry said.