Sweltering Heat Wave Claims Nearly 100 Lives in India
At least 96 people have tragically lost their lives in two of India’s most populous states over the past few days, as a sweltering heat wave continues to grip the country.
The fatalities occurred in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and eastern Bihar, where authorities have issued warnings for residents over 60 and those with existing health conditions to stay indoors during the daytime.
In Uttar Pradesh, all 54 reported deaths were concentrated in Ballia district, located 300 kilometers southeast of Lucknow, the state capital. Most of the victims were elderly individuals with preexisting health issues, which may have been exacerbated by the extreme heat.
Medical officer S. K. Yadav revealed that over the past three days, around 300 patients were admitted to the district hospital due to various ailments aggravated by the heat. In response to the gravity of the situation, authorities canceled leave applications for medical personnel in Ballia and provided additional beds in the emergency ward to accommodate the influx of patients.
Most of the admitted patients, aged 60 and above, are exhibiting symptoms such as high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and heart-related issues.
“This has never happened in Ballia. I have never seen people dying because of the heat in such large numbers,” said R.S. Pathak, a resident who lost his father. “People fear venturing out. The roads and markets are largely deserted.”
Ballia, along with central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, is currently grappling with oppressive heat. On Sunday, the district experienced a maximum temperature of 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the normal range by five degrees. The relative humidity was recorded at 25 percent, intensifying the effect of the heat.
According to Atul Kumar Singh, a scientist from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), temperatures across the state are currently above normal, and no relief is expected in the next 24 hours. The IMD has issued an alert stating that heat wave conditions will persist until June 19 in parts of Uttar Pradesh.
The cause of death of “so many people” in Ballia is under investigation, as stated by the state’s health minister, Brijesh Pathak.
In eastern Bihar, scorching heat has engulfed most of the state, resulting in 42 deaths over the past two days. Two hospitals in the state capital of Patna reported 35 fatalities among over 200 patients being treated for diarrhea and vomiting.
During the summer months of April, May, and June, India typically experiences its hottest temperatures before the monsoon rains bring relief. However, temperatures have become increasingly intense in the past decade.
Heat waves in India often lead to severe water shortages, with tens of millions of people lacking access to running water. A study by World Weather Attribution found that climate change made a searing heat wave in April at least 30 times more likely in parts of South Asia.
In April, the heat claimed the lives of 13 people at a government event in Mumbai, prompting some states to close all schools for a week.
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