20 died of cold between Nov 25 and Jan 25, says Gurugram police data
The extreme, record-breaking cold this winter has caused at least 20 deaths in the city so far, as per data with the police and forensic experts.
In December alone, when the city saw the longest ever recorded spell of cold/severe cold days (18 days), at least 12 people died due to medical conditions from prolonged exposure to cold. December 30 was the coldest December day since 1901 as the maximum temperature fell to 9.5 degrees Celsius, as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
According to the IMD, a ‘severe cold day’ is when two things happen — the minimum temperature drops to less than 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature is at least 6.4 degrees Celsius below normal while a ‘cold day’ is registered when the minimum temperature is less than 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum is 4.4 degrees Celsius below normal.
“The deaths happened due to complete respiratory failure or sudden cardiac arrest as a result of long term exposure to cold,” Dr Deepak Mathur, forensic expert, Civil Hospital, said. He added that most patients also had underlying problems and diseases such as heart disease, alcohol and drug use, and mental illnesses.
The deaths were reported in the jurisdiction of DLF Phase 1, Sector 29 and Rajendra Park police stations, among others. Officials said that around 16 of the 20 were homeless and were brought to the district government hospital upon death.
Last year, at least 10 people had lost their lives due to the cold—nine of who were homeless, officials said.
Experts said that cold temperatures could worsen conditions like heart disease and respiratory illness, and lead to hypothermia, which could, in turn, cause death if not treated on time.
Officials of the Municipal Corporation Gurugram (MCG), however, said that no cold-related deaths were reported to them this winter and that the city has 10 night shelters in use at Iffco Chowk, Kanhai village, Kadipur, Bhim Nagar, Sohna Chowk, among other areas.
“MCG officials have also been patrolling every night to make sure people don’t sleep on the roads and are escorted to night shelters. However, a few people choose to sleep outside,” Mahendra Singh, city project officer, adding that patrolling would continue till mid-February.