Near-record heat in sweltering Rio de Janeiro

(AP)
(AP)

Rio de Janeiro - The calendar says it's still spring in Rio de Janeiro, but the coastal Brazilian city is suffering through one of the most severe bouts of hot weather of the past century.

For a second consecutive day on Friday, the mercury hit 43°C, the third hottest temperature recorded on this date in nearly a hundred years of record-keeping, according to the National Institute of Meteorology (INMET).

The blistering temperature just missed surpassing 2012's record of 43.2°C, prompting desperate residents to escape to the region's famed beaches.

"The [southern] summer has not arrived, and we already have days with 41°C, 42°C - well warmer than other years," 32-year-old Wellington Perreira dos Santos told AFP on Friday, as he cooled down at Ipanema Beach, which was far more crowded than usual for a weekday.

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