India’s intense heat wave claims nearly 100 dead in two most populous states
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A man splashes water on his face to cool himself in Lalitpur district in northern Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday.AP

By Smartencyclopedia Newsroom *

Over the past few days, a sweltering heat wave has gripped India, leading to a tragic loss of lives in two highly populated states. According to officials on Sunday, at least 96 individuals have succumbed to the extreme weather conditions. The affected states are Uttar Pradesh in the north and Bihar in the east, where authorities issued warnings urging residents above the age of 60 and those with existing health issues to remain indoors during daylight hours.

The fatalities in Uttar Pradesh, totaling 54, were concentrated in the Ballia district, situated approximately 300 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Lucknow, the state capital. Investigations revealed that a majority of the deceased were elderly individuals with preexisting health conditions, which may have been exacerbated by the severe heat.

In Ballia alone, over the past three days, around 300 patients sought treatment at the district hospital for various ailments aggravated by the intense heat, as reported by S. K. Yadav, a medical officer. To address the urgency of the situation, authorities in Ballia canceled leave requests for medical personnel and increased the capacity of the emergency ward by adding extra hospital beds to accommodate the influx of patients.

According to officials, the majority of patients admitted to hospitals in Ballia are individuals aged 60 and above, experiencing symptoms such as high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and heart-related problems. One resident of Ballia named R.S. Pathak, who lost his father on Saturday, expressed his firsthand observation of the rising number of patients in the hospital’s emergency ward while he was attending to his father.

He remarked, “This is an unprecedented situation in Ballia. I have never witnessed such a high number of deaths caused by the intense heat. People are afraid to go outside, resulting in deserted roads and markets.”

Ballia, as well as central and eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh, are currently facing the harsh consequences of a suffocating heat wave. On Sunday, the district witnessed scorching temperatures reaching as high as 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the usual range by five degrees. The situation was exacerbated by a relative humidity level of 25%, intensifying the impact of the heat on the local population.

Atul Kumar Singh, a scientist from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), acknowledged that temperatures in Uttar Pradesh were currently surpassing the average levels. He further stated that there would be no respite from the heat in the next 24 hours.

In response to the prevailing conditions, the IMD issued an alert stating that heat wave conditions would persist in certain areas of Uttar Pradesh until June 19.

Recognizing the significant number of deaths in Ballia, the state’s health minister, Brijesh Pathak, announced the initiation of an investigation into the cause behind the unfortunate loss of lives. The authorities are determined to uncover the factors contributing to the high mortality rate in the region.

The eastern region of Bihar has been gripped by a blazing heat wave, resulting in a significant number of casualties. Over the course of the last two days, the scorching temperatures have claimed the lives of 42 individuals.

Among the fatalities, 35 occurred at two hospitals located in the state capital, Patna. These hospitals were treating over 200 patients who were experiencing symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, presumably exacerbated by the intense heat.

On Saturday, Patna recorded an alarming maximum temperature of 44.7 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), reflecting the severity of the heat wave in the area.

Traditionally, the summer months of April, May, and June are known to be the hottest in most parts of India. However, over the past decade, temperatures during this period have become increasingly intense.

Heat waves in India often lead to severe water shortages, impacting a significant portion of the country’s population. Out of India’s 1.4 billion people, tens of millions typically face the challenge of lacking access to running water during these extreme weather conditions. The scarcity of water further exacerbates the hardships faced by individuals and communities during heat waves. Relief from the scorching temperatures usually arrives with the onset of the monsoon rains, which bring in cooler temperatures.

According to a study conducted by World Weather Attribution, an academic group specializing in the analysis of extreme weather events, the intense heat wave that affected certain regions of South Asia in April was found to be at least 30 times more likely due to climate change.

During that period, the heat wave had severe consequences, resulting in the tragic deaths of 13 individuals at a government event held in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. Additionally, several states in the country took precautionary measures by temporarily closing all schools for a week to safeguard students from the extreme heat. These incidents highlight the immediate impacts of climate change on weather patterns and the vulnerability of densely populated regions like South Asia to such events.

Source: With Agencies

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