Air-raid shelters, once used to protect Chongqing residents from air attacks during the war against Japanese aggression, have turned out to be an ideal place to escape from the scorching heat.
During the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, Chongqing, then China's temporary capital, was bombed by over 9,000 Japanese planes between 1938 and 1944. Its many bomb shelters cover an area of more than 1 million square meters.
This year, the city has opened 96 air-raid shelters to residents. Each is equipped with seating, a television, water dispenser, newspapers and books, and medicine.
"Some days, the city temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius, but inside the shelters it is as low as 27 degrees Celsius," said a Chongqing resident named Zhao.
On the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the mountainous city of Chongqing is known as one of China's "three furnaces" -- the others being Wuhan and Nanjing -- due to their oppressive summer temperatures.
The local government has arranged some free activities for those sheltering inside the caves, such as health checks, home appliance maintenance and haircuts. Some restaurants have even opened in the shelters.
"In era of peace, the shelters should have new functions," said a spokesperson with Yuzhong district civil air defense office.
The bomb shelters in the district receive more than 100,000 residents each year.
"Most visitors who come here to escape the heat are retried people and children," said Yu Xiaohong, a worker in one shelter.