Uttar Pradesh's Ballia records 44 deaths linked to extreme heat in 2 days: Officials
23 deaths occurred on June 15, followed by 11 more until June 16 afternoon, as per the statement issued by district health department.
At least 44 people admitted to a district hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia died between June 15 and 16 with scorching heat aggravating their pre-existing ailments, officials said on Saturday, prompting the state government to launch a probe into the deaths.
Most of the patients were over the age of 60, the officials said.
A senior government official, seeking anonymity, said, “UP government has launched a probe into the deaths. Two director level officers from Lucknow have been sent to the district.”
The chief medical superintendent of Balia district hospital, Diwakar Singh, has been transferred out, the official said.
Earlier in the day, Singh said that the district has been reeling from sweltering heat.
“Increased heat poses a problem for all. But in such weather conditions, the problem increases more for the people suffering from diseases like blood pressure, bronchial asthma, as these ailments aggravate,” he said.
While 23 people died on June 15, 11 others died till the afternoon of June 16, a statement issued by district health department said. Later, however, 10 more people died on Friday, a senior official at the hospital said.
“In the last over 50 hours, 44 deaths have been reported,” the official said, seeking anonymity.
Speaking to HT, Singh said, “When the people were brought in, most of them complained of giddiness and some others had fever. These deaths were caused by critical ailments, not by heat stroke.”
On Saturday, the district recorded a maximum temperature of 43°C, five degrees above normal and a relative humidity of 25%, aggravating the impact of heat.
This means that the Heat Index (HI), known more commonly as “real feel” temperature, stood at 47°C, according to HT’s calculation employing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculator to find out heat index based on relative humidity and temperature.
HI depicts what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature and wind speed. It is commonly used to assess the risk of heat-related illnesses and heat stress. Prolonged exposure to a heat index between 40-54°C is associated with heatstroke.
Similar conditions prevailed in the district over the past few days. According to India Meteorological Department, Ballia recorded a maximum temperature of 42.2°C (also five degrees above normal) on June 16, and 42°C on June 15.
According to the Met department’s forecast, the district is likely to witness a high 43°C on Sunday.
Singh said that the people brought to the district hospital were being given the best treatment possible with available resources.
“We have installed coolers in the hospital and even arranged air-conditioners for some wards,” he said.
He advised people to not venture out in the afternoons, and add more hydrating elements to their diets, as the temperature continues to spike.