Heat wave claims hundreds of lives in south India, hospitals flooded with patients

World Today

An Indian rickshaw puller rests under the shade of an overhead bridge on a hot summer day in Hyderabad, India, Monday, May 25, 2015. Hundreds of people have died since mid-April in a heat wave sweeping two southeast Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, officials said Saturday. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

The death toll from severe heat wave rose to 470 in India’s two southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Monday, with weather office predicting similar conditions for the next two weeks.

Hospitals in both the states are flooded with patients suffering from sun stroke and dehydration from the intense heat. The situation has been aggravated further with frequent cuts in power.

“My brother Kishore is admitted here. He suffered a sun stroke while going to work yesterday morning. His condition became serious. People said that the temperature touched 45 degrees Celsius yesterday. It was extremely hot. I have never experienced such intense heat in Vizag (Visakhapatnam) before. The government needs to take precautions to help people in this situation,” said brother of a patient, Rajesh, in Visakhapatnam city of Andhra Pradesh.

Some people complained that the water supply at the hospital was irregular whereas fans were not functioning.

Meanwhile, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) officials in southern Hyderabad city said that the acute heat would continue for the next two weeks.

“In coastal Andhra Pradesh, the temperature now in most of the districts is between 43 and 47 degrees Celsius. In Telangana (a neighbouring state), most of the places recorded 40 to 45 degree Celsius. Severe heat wave conditions persist in both states. This is expected to continue today and tomorrow. After that, both the states would get some relief as we expect rainfall.

Temperature would fall by three to four degrees. But this relief would only be temporary. This type of heat wave would continue till the onset of monsoon over the southern coast,” said IMD assistant director, M Narasimha Rao, in Hyderabad.

He added that the monsoon, which is expected to hit the southern Kerala coast on May 30, would reach Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by the first week of June, providing respite to people.

The government of Andhra Pradesh had last week declared the situation caused by heat wave alarming and appealed to people not to venture out between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The chief minister of the state had also announced an aid of one lakh rupees (about $1,572) for the families of victims of heat wave.

The twin southern states have so far been the worst affected from the heat wave this year. The death toll from the heat wave has reportedly crossed 500 in India with several cities across the country reeling under the scorching sun.

India has long-suffered deadly heat waves. Periods of extreme temperatures have led to thousands of deaths since the 1990s.

Northern, western, and central parts of India suffer intense heat waves from mid-April to July before monsoon rains hit the region providing relief to people.