Heatwave Claims Lives in India as Temperatures Near 50°C

Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
3 Min Read

At least 15 people have succumbed to heat-related ailments in the past 24 hours as temperatures in northern and central India continue to soar.

Rising Death Toll

In Odisha’s Rourkela region, ten fatalities were reported at a government hospital on Thursday, authorities informed Reuters. Additional deaths due to heatstroke have been recorded in Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Delhi.

The intense heatwave coincides with India’s general election, with results scheduled for 4 June.

Heat-Related Fatalities

Mahendra Kumar, district magistrate of Bhojpur in Bihar, told the Times of India that three election officers and a policeman died from heatstroke on Thursday. “It was the hottest day, and despite having medical facilities at all centres, they collapsed. One home guard [volunteer policeman] became unconscious where he was staying,” Mr. Kumar said, adding that the man died in the hospital while being treated.

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Hospital Admissions Surge

Hospitals in the affected regions are witnessing a spike in admissions due to heat-related illnesses. In Delhi, a laborer admitted with heatstroke died while receiving treatment on Thursday.

India’s National Centre for Disease Control labels heat strokes as “life-threatening,” with a mortality rate of 40 to 64%.

Extreme Heat Conditions

For the past two weeks, northern, central, and parts of western India have experienced relentless heat, with temperatures consistently around 45-46°C and occasionally reaching 50°C. The extreme heat has led to severe water and electricity shortages, increased fires, and forced authorities to use drones to monitor forest fires in Jammu and Kashmir.

Delhi and surrounding regions have faced record-breaking temperatures, nearing 50°C. Social media is flooded with videos of Delhi residents jostling for water from tankers, while many areas suffer from frequent power cuts.

India as Temperatures
Temperature Bar Chart Asia-India–1901-2020–2021-07-13” by Ed Hawkins, University of Reading is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Record Temperatures and Infrastructure Strain

Officials are investigating whether the recorded temperature of 52.9°C in Mungeshpur on Wednesday resulted from a sensor malfunction.

Historical Data and Future Outlook

A study published in The Lancet noted a 55% rise in deaths due to extreme heat between 2000-2004 and 2017-2021 in India. It also highlighted that heat exposure caused a loss of 167.2 billion potential labor hours in 2021.

Experts warn that while heatwaves have been a regular summer occurrence in India, they are becoming longer, more intense, and more frequent due to climate change.

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I'm Emily Johnson, a passionate writer exploring the realms of literature and culture. Join me on a journey of creativity and discovery!
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