A nationwide heat alert has been issued in China for the first time as temperatures in parts of the country hit record highs.

At least 10 people are reported to have died in Shanghai from heatstroke, as the city experiences its hottest July in 140 years, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

The national heat alert covers nine provinces, including Anhui, Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Shanghai and Chongqing.

The China Meteorological Administration issued the level two emergency heat alert yesterday.

Weather forecasts suggested that some areas south of the Yangtze river, including Chongqing, could experience temperatures of over 35°C until August 8.

Members of the public were urged to avoid outdoor activities and to take protective measures against the heat.

Journalists in Shanghai have demonstrated the intensity of the heat by frying a pork chop on a marble slab outdoors in just 10 minutes, the BBC reported.