Thousands of people crowded a swimming pool in southwest China yesterday to escape a heatwave that has led to the warmest July in 140 years.

More than 12,000 people have been visiting the indoor pool at an amusement park in Daying County, Sichuan Province, each day during the recent heatwave.

Temperatures well above 35C have swept China in recent days, leading the country's meteorological administration to launch a "level two" emergency response.

Temperatures in parts of Sichuan and other areas are expected to climb to 41C, and authorities have advised people to stay inside with air conditioning.

On Saturday the pool saw almost 15,000 visitors, more than three times the number envisaged by its designers.

At least two people have died from heat stroke in the eastern city of Shanghai.