As many as 500 people have died as a result of a massive heat wave sweeping across India. The majority of deaths have been reported from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
While the heat wave started last week of April, temperatures spiked on Saturday leading to higher number of deaths, mostly among labourers toiling under the hot sun.
Khammam in Andhra Pradesh recorded a blistering 48 degrees on Sunday, followed by Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh at 47.7 degrees, and Angul in Odisha at 46.7 degrees. New Delhi touched 43.5 degrees.
“Almost all the victims are old. Inquiries reveal that most of them were working and were exposed to the heat. Dehydration and heat stroke caused the deaths,” said Telangana Principal Secretary (Revenue) B R Meena.
Until Sunday, 290 people died in Andhra Pradesh and 186 in Telangana. State governments have said they are planning to reschedule projects under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which provides for atleast 100 days of work.
In Odisha, 24 people died after temperature crossed 45 degrees in six districts. “Similar conditions will prevail across Odisha at least for the next five days,” warned SC Sahu, director of the weather office’s Bhubaneswar centre.
In the eastern state of West Bengal, 10 people died, including two taxi drivers in Kolkata. "Those who do not want to drive taxis have been allowed to do so from 11 am to 4 pm. Those who want to ply are free to do so," said Bimal Guha, chief of the Bengal Taxi Union.
“Severe heat wave conditions will continue in coastal Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and some parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha on Monday. Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan, besides a few places in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh, will also remain affected,” said an official at the Meteorological Department.