India

Massive India heatwave 'kills 500'

  • 25 May 2015
  • From the section India
Media captionRaju, Delhi rickshaw operator: "When I get tired I look for a tree to take some rest under its shade"

At least 500 people are reported to have died in a heatwave sweeping India, with temperatures reaching 48C (118F) in some areas.

Most deaths have taken place in the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where more than 140 people have died since Saturday.

Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh recorded 48C while temperatures rose to above 44C (111F) in the capital, Delhi.

Authorities have urged people to stay indoors and drink plenty of fluids.

Heatwave conditions have been prevailing in the two worst-affected southern Indian states since mid-April, but most of the deaths have happened in the past week.

The worst-hit state has been Andhra Pradesh where 246 people have died from the high temperatures in the past week. State officials said 62 people died of sunstroke on Sunday.

Image copyright AP
Image caption This railway passenger found a way to cool off at a station in Jammu
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Authorities have urged people to drink plenty of fluids

"The majority of the victims are people who have been exposed to the sun directly, usually aged 50 and above and from the working classes," news agency AFP quoted P Tulsi Rani, special commissioner of Andhra Pradesh's disaster management department, as saying.

"We are asking them to take precautions like using an umbrella, using a cap, taking a huge quantity of liquids like water and buttermilk, and wearing cotton clothing," he added.

Media captionAs temperatures rise to 48 Celsius, Darren Bett explains why this is not unusual.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said the heatwave had killed 186 people in 10 districts in neighbouring Telangana state, with 58 people dying since Saturday.

The north-western desert state of Rajasthan has also recorded several deaths due to the heat, the PTI reported, including a woman who collapsed and died on a roadside in Bundi city.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Young men jump into a river to escape the heat in Gujarat
Image copyright AP
Image caption Sweltering conditions were likely to continue for a few more days

The meteorological department said the sweltering conditions were likely to continue for a few more days.

"No relief" is expected in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi and other northern states for the next four days, and the "heatwave will continue," an official said.

Reports said at least 10 people had died of the heat in the eastern state of West Bengal.

Non air-conditioned taxis will be taken off the road for five hours during the day in the main city in the state capital, Kolkata, after two drivers died from heat stroke.

Meteorological officials said the heatwave was due to a lack of rain.


Indians wilt in parched Telangana state - by Imran Qureshi

Image caption Farmer Ahmed Pasha says water has dried up in wells and bore-holes

Residents of Nalgonda in India's newly-formed state of Telangana are used to high temperatures during the summer months.

But the intensity of this heatwave has left businessman Ravinder Reddy confined to his house for a full week.

"Two of my employees are in hospital due to heat strokes," he told the BBC.

Ahmed Pasha, who cultivates 12 acres of land, says there is no water in the well or in the bore-hole.

"It has all gone so dry that more than 50% of the grass that I had grown for the buffaloes and the goats has dried up.


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