Brutal Indian heatwave kills more than 1,800 people
Published 28/05/2015 | 13:02
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.
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.