Heat Wave Claims More Than 750 Lives In India

May 26, 2015

More than 750 people are dead in India in a heat wave that has seen temperatures in some parts of the country touching 118 degrees.

Most of the deaths have occurred in southern Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. The Associated Press reports that more than 550 people have died in Andhra Pradesh since May 13; the number is 215 in Telangana since April 15. Indian news sites say the toll has exceeded 1,000.

Officials have urged people to stay indoors and remain hydrated. Temperatures in both states are expected to start falling by the end of the week.

But high temperatures persist across much of the country of 1 billion people. In New Delhi, NPR’s Julie McCarthy reports, the temperature on Monday was 114 degrees. She notes that it’s “so hot in the capital … that the roads are warping. Zebra-striped crosswalks are mere smudges on melted blacktop in this sizzling sun.”

The high temperatures are not unusual. Temperatures in parts of the country typically exceed 100 degrees before the monsoons begin. Those who die are usually poor.

Here’s more from Julie’s story that aired on today’s All Things Considered:

“India’s Meteorological Department says the current choking weather pattern is caused by missing pre-monsoons showers and an undisturbed high pressure system. It has issued so-called ‘red box’ warnings for three states – meaning a high chance of sunstroke, dehydration and fatality as temperatures creep up to 113 degrees and higher.”

The annual monsoons, set to begin in the first week of June, are likely to lower temperatures. The season runs through September.

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