A relentless heatwave sweeping large parts of India has killed nearly 1,200 people, with most deaths reported from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, even as forecasts warned that the intense weather conditions are expected to continued till the weekend.
The death toll in Andhra Pradesh rose to 852, with the scorching weather claiming 202 lives in Prakasam district alone, officials said. Another 266 deaths were reported in Telangana where Ramagundam city recorded a maximum temperature of 44.5°C.
A total of 67 deaths were reported in Odisha, according to ANI. Titlagarh recorded a temperature of 47.6°C, the season’s highest for the state.
Officials reported seven deaths in Gujarat’s capital Ahmedabad this month, with the civic body issuing an “orange alert”, indicating a prolonged heatwave with temperatures expected to rise to 43°C to 45°C over the next week.
Video: Blazing heat bakes India
Authorities said most of the victims were construction workers, the elderly or the homeless. In the national capital, the torrid temperatures melted roads and forced people indoors.
Heat waves, periods with unusually high temperatures, typically occur between March and June.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted the mercury will continue to soar this week, with substantial relief expected only when the southwest monsoon hits the mainland around May 31.
Private forecaster Skymet said north, central and east India will witness “intense heat” this week. The northeast is the only pocket expected to receive rainfall. “Very hot conditions” will prevail in central India, and Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha and Marathwada will be the main pockets where heatwave will be observed.
The IMD has issued “red box” warnings for Odisha, Jharkhand and coastal Andhra Pradesh, signalling high chances of heatstroke, dehydration and fatality with temperatures inching upwards of 45°C.
A blazing sun beat down on Delhi’s residents, who are unlikely to get any relief as the weather office predicted clear skies for the rest of Wednesday. "The skies will be mainly clear. The maximum temperature is expected to hover at 44°C," it said.
The heat baked large parts of Punjab and Haryana as maximum temperatures settled a few notches above normal. Karnal in Haryana recorded 44°C, four degrees above normal, while the temperature at Ludhiana in Punjab was 42.6°C.
As if the sweltering conditions were not enough, stifling humidity compounded problems for people in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow, as the city recorded a maximum temperature of 43.5°C with relative humidity at 70%. Agra was the hottest part of the state with the mercury hitting 46.1°C.
Sporadic rains cooled the eastern state of Jharkhand and the maximum temperature dropped to a comfortable 35°C in capital Ranchi. Parts of neighbouring West Bengal experienced light rainfall, including its power centre Kolkata.
Temperatures hovered between 41°C and 45°C in Rajasthan, weather officials said, as streets and markets in cities and towns wore a deserted look during peak hours.
The heatwave was mainly triggered by an abrupt end to pre-monsoon showers. A brewing cyclonic weather pattern in the Arabian Sea two weeks ago lost steam quickly, while depressions, or rain-causing systems, in the Bay of Bengal headed off towards the northeast states which are getting plentiful rains.
Authorities advised people to stay indoors and consume plenty of fluids as experts warned the heat wave is expected to continue till the weekend.
There were also fears of large-scale power outages in several parts of north India, bringing back memories of a major blackout in 2012 that affected nearly 600 million people.
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