A searing heat wave that has melted roads and killed over 1,400 across the country over the past week is showing signs of abating, as sporadic showers and cloudy skies have brought relief to people driven indoors by the scorching sun.
The mercury soared past 47° C in Odisha’s Titlagarh for the second consecutive day on Wednesday but the state saw only two districts report temperatures over 45 degrees, a drop from an average of seven over the past week. Villagers, however, were forced to trudge long miles in the sun as tube wells and water bodies dried up while long power outages interrupted piped water supply.
The southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, which together accounted for 1,270 heat-related deaths, continued to swelter with temperatures over 46.9°C affecting the homeless and daily-wage workers the most.
“The heat is so horrible that I am just not moving out during the day and replenishing myself with cool water and other fluids from time to time,” said Prakash Rao, a retired employee in Krishna district.
Overcast skies in some parts of Telangana, including Hyderabad, gave much-needed relief. Rain and thunderstorms were also reported in Nellore district in the evening, prompting the state government to withdraw its heat wave warning.
In Kolkata, cloud cover gave way to a burning sun for the first time in two days. The heat also hindered coal production, with the state government asking certain subsidiaries of Coal India to halt production or stagger shifts during the day to reduce miners’ exposure to soaring temperatures in open-pit mines.
Uttar Pradesh got no respite from the fiery heat, though. Allahabad reeled at 45.8 degree C but the weather office predicted dust storms and thunderstorms, accompanied with rain.