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Extreme heat wave in India intensifies as deaths increase

  • Posted on June 11, 2024
  • News

India faces its longest heatwave on record, with blistering temperatures claiming at least 68 lives. Experts warn the toll is likely higher as extreme heat persists in northern regions.


The heat wave is still ongoing and has been particularly severe in large parts of India, while the death toll in the eastern state of Odisha has risen to eight after three more deaths were reported in the past three days. This raises the country’s heat-related deaths to at least sixty-eight since March, although the actual toll is believed to be much higher, especially in rural areas, deaths are often unreported.

The India Meteorological Department stated that this can be regarded as the longest heatwave in the history of India, as the temperatures above 50 C (122 F) in some regions lasted for 24 days. Northern India has been worst hit by the scorching heat since mid-May, with most cities having recorded temperatures of between 45- 50 degrees Celsius, equivalent to 113-122 degrees Fahrenheit.

”This has been the longest because it has been felt for about 24 days in different regions in the country,” said the head of the IMD, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra. He pointed out that human activities such as industrialization enhanced the intensity and duration of heat waves through greenhouse gas emissions.  

The heat has made round-the-clock living in India difficult, leading to water rationing and power blackouts. At least 18 people involved in the management of polls during the last phase of national elections held earlier this month died of heat stroke, alone in a single day, which is 31st May, more than 30 deaths were recorded in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Odisha.

While monsoon rains that are scheduled to begin in June started in southern Kerala state on May 30th, it will take many weeks for the rains to trickle down to the rest of the subcontinent. According to the IMD, ‘This year is going to be an above normal monsoon year,’ However, Mohapatra cautioned, ‘Heatwaves will be more frequent, of longer duration, and stronger in the coming days if the precautionary or preventive measures are not exercised.

Also Read: India Sizzles with Over 50 Dead from Heat Wave in 3 Days

At a time when India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and largely dependent on coal-based power plants, the heat wave is a direct indication of the emergence of climate change risks. Mohapatra summed up his message by stating: ‘We are living dangerously, not only for ourselves but also for our future generations.

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