Severe heatwave in India has claimed more than 2 000 lives in last two weeks, authorities reported this Sunday, May 31, 2015. Weather officials warn that humid and hot conditions could last another four or five days.
Despite strong pre-monsoon showers occurrence at the end of last week, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states in south India remained under the impact of the heatwave with temperatures hovering between 42.2 and 45 degrees Celsius (108 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit).
Temperature maxima reached 45°C (113°F) in Andhra Pradesh and 42.7°C (109°F) in Telangan on Sunday, just a little below the last week's maxima of 47.2°C (117°F).
“The meteorological department has issued a warning of high temperatures for a couple of more days,” P. Tulsi Rani, special commissioner of the disaster-management department in Andhra Pradesh, said Sunday. "However, there should be relief with some rains expected during the next four or five days.”
According to Ms. Rani, 1 636 people have died from heat-related problems in her state during the past week.
The state government in Andhra Pradesh has launched a publicity campaign advising citizens to stay indoors during the day, drink lots of water, use an umbrella and keep their heads and bodies covered to avoid sunstroke. The government has also set up tents or temporary stands where water, as well as buttermilk, is distributed free of charge and people are “encouraged” to drink, Ms. Rani said.
541 people have died from heat during last week, in Telangana, said B.R Meena, a top state official. Local media sources have been mobilized to inform people on how to protect themselves from the heat induced danger. Hospitals too have been alerted, "but the heat has definitely come down in the last few days as we have received information about fewer new patients getting admitted with heat stroke", said Mr. Meena.
Video credit: ODN
Temperatures up to 46.1°C degrees (115°F) continued in other parts of India. 45 deaths were recorded in the state of Orissa, 12 in West Bengal, and 7 in Ahmedabad city.
New Delhi recorded a temperature maxima of 42.2°C (108°F) on Sunday, May 31. It is still unknown whether the heatwave has resulted in any deaths, according to the city authorities.
May is India’s hottest month, but, even so, temperatures have by far exceeded the normal. In the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh, daytime temperatures rose more than 7°C (40°F) higher than average, according to India's meteorological department director B.P. Yadav.
Aftab Ahmad, an internal medicine expert at a hospital in Hyderabad, said there could be many reasons for the heavy death toll. “The prime among them is what is called climatic acclimatization. This year the temperature changed suddenly. This disturbs the defense mechanisms of the body.”
Indian government's National Disaster Management Authority website states that severe heatwaves are the result of global climate change. According to India's weather department, monsoon rains which were expected to hit the southern coast of Kerala on Saturday, will probably be delayed by four to five days. Usually, the monsoon season begins in June and the rains spread across the whole country by September.
Featured image: Fiery Sun by Pranav. (CC - Flickr)