By Rex Mphisa

ZIMBABWE has been experiencing extremely high temperatures beginning Monday with Beitbridge recording 44,5º Celsius. The Meteorological Services Department (MSD), however, said temperatures would cool down beginning yesterday.

Although high temperatures are expected to continue in Matabeleland North, all Mashonaland provinces, northern parts of the Midlands and Harare, the MSD ruled out prospects of a heat wave hitting the country.

Beitbridge border town temperatures matched an all-time record of 44.5ºC recorded in October 2010. In 1998 temperatures spiked to 44,4 ºC in the border town.

Gweru, Zvishavane, Gwanda and Binga also broke or matched previous recordings, meteorologist Tich Zinyemba said.

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Zinyemba said the temperature spikes were a result of compression ahead of cooler temperatures experienced countrywide yesterday.

“The advent of cooler temperatures caused the spikes before cold temperatures set in,” he said.

He said Beitbridge recorded 44,5ºC and Gweru recorded a new high of 36,4 ºC from a previous record of 36,1ºC.

“Joshua Mqabuko (Polytechnic) in Gwanda recorded 38,2 ºC from a previous 38ºC. Zvishavane recorded 41,7 ºC over its 2010 record of 41,3ºC,” Zinyemba said. Binga also set a new record of 41,5ºC up from a previous 41,4ºC.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport recorded 34,2ºC.

In Beitbridge town two children fainted at a secondary school and by noon schools had abandoned classes as the searing heat persisted. A teacher from Beitbridge West said the school avoided classrooms as hot and almost still air prevailed.

“Birds, particularly doves, were falling down,” said another teacher from Madzivhe.

“We had problems with schoolchildren particularly in infant school,” said the teacher who declined to be named.

“We have sent reports to the Education Department at Beitbridge,” she added.

Officials at the district education offices were not available for comment. In the border town streets were deserted as people sought shelter from the heat. People could be seen holding water bottles and water vendors said they recorded brisk business.

“I have sold three times the number of water bottles I ordinarily sell and business is good,” a vendor who identified herself as Mary Moyo said.