Middle East

Iraq heat wave sends temperatures up to 53 degrees Celsius

  • People cool off from the summer heat by using an open air shower in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    People cool off from the summer heat by using an open air shower in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

  • People cool off the summer heat by drinking iced juice in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    People cool off the summer heat by drinking iced juice in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

  • People escape the searing summer heat swimming pool in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    People escape the searing summer heat swimming pool in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July, 20, 2016. Iraqis are enduring the year's hottest day to date, with temperatures soaring to 51 Celsius degrees (123.8 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 Celsius (127.4 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

Iraqis are enduring the hottest day so far this year, with temperatures soaring up to 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit) in Baghdad and as much as 53 degrees Celsius (127 Fahrenheit) in the southern part of the country.

The government has given its workers Wednesday and Thursday off because of the heat wave, which is expected to break on Sunday. Friday and Saturday is the weekend in Iraq as in most Arab countries.

Iraq's summers are known for their merciless heat, but the government's chief weather forecaster Hassan Abdul-Karim says these highs are well above average for this time of year.

He says growing desertification in the last five years has been consistently pushing temperatures up.