Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Heatwave ravages India, 100+ fatalities

(ANN/DAILY STAR) – India has recorded over 40,000 suspected cases of heatstroke this summer, with more than 100 fatalities reported due to a prolonged heatwave. Additionally, parts of the country’s northeast are grappling with floods caused by heavy rain, authorities stated.

The extreme heat, exacerbated by human-driven climate change, has affected billions across Asia. In north India, temperatures have soared to nearly 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), marking one of the longest heatwaves on record.

The impact of the heatwave has been severe, with reports of birds falling from the skies and hospitals receiving an influx of patients affected by the heat. This phenomenon has been ongoing for several weeks since the beginning of summer in March.

The health ministry ordered federal and state institutions to ensure “immediate attention” to patients, while hospitals in the capital Delhi, which is also facing a water shortage, were directed make more beds available.

A health ministry official said there were more than 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases and at least 110 confirmed deaths between March 1 and June 18, when northwest and eastern India recorded twice the usual number of heatwave days.

The weather office has forecast above normal temperatures for this month too, as authorities say Indian cities have become “heat traps” due to unbalanced growth.

“During the ongoing heatwave, most bird rescue calls that we receive are due to birds falling from the skies,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder and CEO of non-profit Wildlife SOS.

PHOTO: ENVATO

“In the past two weeks, Wildlife SOS has been receiving more than 35-40 rescue calls daily, in and around Delhi-National Capital Region. Most of the calls include bird rescue requests.”

Separately, floods and landslides triggered by incessant rain in the northeastern state of Assam killed at least six people on Tuesday night, officials said.

“A landslide buried a woman and her three daughters alive,” a state disaster management official, Siju Das, said by telephone.

“Their house was on a slope, and they died on the spot around midnight,” he said, adding that the bodies were retrieved after a three-hour search operation by rescuers.

“A three-year-old was killed too.”

In Assam, more than 160,000 people were affected, with waters surpassing the danger level in the Kopili, one of the largest tributaries of the Brahmaputra, which ranks among India’s biggest rivers.

More than 30 people in the state have died since the end of May in floods and landslides brought by heavy rain, officials said.

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