Sunday 11 December 2016

Brutal Indian heatwave kills more than 1,800 people

Published 28/05/2015 | 13:02

A woman rides a motorcycle with her face covered to protect herself from sun stroke on a hot summer day in Chandigarh, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ajay Verma
A woman rides a motorcycle with her face covered to protect herself from sun stroke on a hot summer day in Chandigarh, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ajay Verma
Children sit in plastic containers filled with water as they cool themselves next to a borewell at a farmland on a hot summer day on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Amit Dave
Boys sit in a plastic container filled with water as they cool themselves next to a borewell at a farmland on a hot summer day on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Amit Dave
A worker washes his face at the construction site of a commercial complex on a hot summer day in Amritsar, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Munish Sharma
A customer (C) stands amidst stacked air coolers kept for sale at a shop on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A customer stands beside stacked air coolers kept for sale at a shop on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
A vendor sleeps on his ice-cream handcart on a hot summer day in Allahabad, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
A vendor sleeps next to stacked cartons of air coolers kept for sale at a shop on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2015. A heat wave in India has killed at least 1,371 people this week as temperatures soar above 47 Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit), and doctors' leave has been cancelled to help cope with the sick. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Buffaloes sit in a lake on a hot summer day near Ajmer, India, May 28, 2015. A heat wave in India has killed at least 1,371 people this week as temperatures soar above 47 Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit), and doctors' leave has been cancelled to help cope with the sick. REUTERS/Himanshu Sharma
A woman walks along the road with her face covered to protect herself from sun stroke on a hot summer day in Chandigarh, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ajay Verma
Workers sleep under a mosquito net installed on an open truck on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee
Men sleep on a temporary shade built over a drain next to a slum on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee
A girl plays with clay next to a railway track on a hot summer day in Agartala, India, May 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey

Eating onions, lying in the shade and crowding into rivers, Indians are doing whatever they can to stay cool amid a brutal heatwave that has killed more than 1,800 in the past month.

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Meteorological officials called the hot weather "severe" and warned it would continue for at least another two days across a huge swathe of the South Asian country, from Tamil Nadu in the south to the Himalayan foothill state of Himachal Pradesh.

Most of those killed by heat-related conditions, including dehydration and heats troke, have been in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where temperatures have soared to 47C (117F).

Cooling monsoon rains are expected next week in the south before gradually advancing north.

Thousands of water tankers were delivering supplies to more than 4,000 villages and hamlets facing acute water shortage in the central state of Maharashtra, state water department officials told the Press Trust of India.

People across India were also reporting scorched crops and dying wildlife, with some animals succumbing to thirst.

Indians were doing whatever they could to beat the heat, from staying in the shade or plunging into rivers to drinking buttermilk, onion juice and plenty of water.

But many farmers and construction workers struggling with poverty were still working outdoors despite the risks. They along with the impoverished elderly were among the most vulnerable, without access to air conditioners or sometimes even shade-giving trees.

Despite the forecast of monsoon rains, meteorological service AccuWeather warned of prolonged drought conditions, with the monsoon likely to be disrupted by a more active typhoon season over the Pacific.

"While there will be some rainfall on the region, the pattern could evolve into significant drought and negatively impact agriculture from central India to much of Pakistan," senior AccuWeather meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

Officials are warning people to stay out of the sun, cover their heads and drink water.

Doctors are on alert for heat-related illness, while volunteers are distributing salted buttermilk or raw onions - both thought to be hydrating.

Press Association

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