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India Heat Wave Claims 56 Lives, 25,000 Struck by March-May

A three-month heatwave has ravaged nearly 25,000 suspected heatstroke cases and at least 56 confirmed deaths in India. May witnessed temperatures soaring to 50°C in Delhi and Rajasthan, with 46 confirmed heat-related deaths

By Ground report
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A three-month heat wave has scorched South Asia, causing nearly 25,000 suspected heat stroke cases and at least 56 confirmed deaths in India from March to May, according to government data cited by local media.

The situation in India has been dire, with May temperatures reaching 50°C (122°F) in Delhi and Rajasthan. On Friday, at least 33 people, including election officials during India's general elections, died of suspected heat stroke in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha.

India's National Centre for Disease Control reported 46 confirmed heat-related deaths and over 19,000 suspected heat stroke cases in May, making it the deadliest month of the extreme heat event. However, the actual death toll may be higher. The Hindu newspaper reported as many as 80 suspected heat deaths nationwide when including unconfirmed cases.

Madhya Pradesh has been hit hard, with over 5,000 heat stroke cases and 14 confirmed deaths, the highest in any state. Last week, Odisha had at least 20 sunstroke deaths in just three days.

"At least 56 heat stroke deaths were confirmed from March to May, with 46 in May alone, according to central (federal) government data." The report noted that many states have been hesitant to classify heat exposure deaths without an autopsy.

According to PTI, Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena and Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahu held a meeting with district collectors on Sunday to assess the situation. They urged district administrations to adhere to the heatwave advisory and implement precautionary measures. Directives were issued to ensure that every suspected sunstroke death undergoes a post-mortem examination to expedite ex-gratia approval. Additionally, officials mandated a joint inquiry by the local revenue officer and the local medical officer to ascertain the precise cause of each death

The extreme heat has been fueled by a confluence of factors, including a lingering high pressure system drawing hot air from Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula. But climate scientists point to human-caused global warming as a critical factor amplifying the intensity, duration and deadliness of this year's heat waves across South Asia.

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