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Heatwaves killed 96 people in UP and Bihar, Is it wet bulb?

Heat waves have recently wreaked havoc in the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar, resulting in the tragic

By groundreportdesk
New Update
South India records lowest June rainfall and highest temperatures in 122 yrs

Heat waves have recently wreaked havoc in the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar, resulting in the tragic loss of 96 lives. As these regions face scorching temperatures, it is crucial to delve into the factors behind these extreme weather events and explore the concept of wet bulb temperature.

Authorities have issued warnings for residents over the age of 60 and those with health conditions to stay indoors during the day. In the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, 54 deaths were reported, mainly among people over the age of 60 who had health conditions made worse by extreme heat.

RS Pathak, a Ballia resident who lost his father on Saturday, said he witnessed an increased flow of patients in the hospital emergency room while treating his father.

“This has never happened in Ballia. I have never seen so many people die from the heat,” he said. “People are afraid to venture out. The roads and markets are largely deserted."

Tragic loss of life

In recent days, UP and Bihar have been dealing with a relentless heat wave, driving temperatures well beyond normal ranges. The maximum temperature in the Ballia district, UP, rose to a sweltering 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, exceeding the average by five degrees. In Bihar, the state capital, Patna, recorded a scorching high of 44.7 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday.

The severity of the heat wave became apparent with the tragic loss of 96 lives in both states. In UP's Ballia district alone, 83 deaths have been reported since June 11, with 57 confirmed heat-related deaths. Similarly, eastern Bihar witnessed 42 deaths in the past two days, 35 of which occurred in Patna, where hospitals treated more than 300 patients suffering from heatwave-related symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.

Jayant Kumar Kumar, Ballia's medical director said that the people who sadly lost their lives had pre-existing ailments that were exacerbated by the heat wave. The causes of death mainly included heart attacks, strokes and cases of diarrhoea.

"This has never happened in Ballia. I have never seen people dying because of the heat in such large numbers,” he said. “People fear venturing out. The roads and markets are largely deserted".

Scorching temperatures

The district experienced scorching temperatures on Sunday, peaking at 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit), exceeding the normal range by five degrees. The high temperature, combined with a relative humidity of 25 percent, intensified the impact of the heat wave.

Atul Kumar Singh, a scientist with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), confirmed that temperatures across the state were currently above normal and no relief was expected in the next 24 hours. The IMD issued an alert, stating that heat wave conditions would persist until June 19 in certain parts of Uttar Pradesh.

State Health Minister Brijesh Pathak announced an investigation into the cause of death of numerous people in Ballia and expressed concern over the high number of deaths.

In eastern Bihar, scorching heat has gripped most of the state, causing 42 deaths in the past two days. Among the deaths, 35 occurred in two hospitals in the state capital of Patna, where more than 200 patients suffering from diarrhea and vomiting were being treated.

Patna recorded an alarming high of 44.7 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday.

Typically, the summer months of April, May and June are the hottest in most of India, followed by the relief of monsoon rains, which bring cooler temperatures. However, during the last decade, temperatures have been increasingly intense. Heat waves in the country often lead to severe water shortages, affecting tens of millions of India's 1.4 billion people who lack access to running water.

Future Heatwaves

Climate change has contributed to an increase in the intensity and frequency of heat waves around the world, and the Indian subcontinent is no exception. Rising global temperatures exacerbate the likelihood of extreme heat events, posing a serious threat to human health, agriculture, and infrastructure.

A study by the World Weather Attribution, an academic group that examines the source of extreme heat, found that climate change made a scorching April heat wave that hit parts of South Asia at least 30 times more likely.

In April, heat killed 13 people at a government event in Mumbai and caused some states to close all schools for a week.

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