Published On : Tue, May 26th, 2015

First Cold killed hundreds, Now Heat wave kills over 500 in the country

Nagpur: If it is farmer suicides in Vidarbha that is taking toll on human life; the severe heat and the scorching sun are doing it elsewhere. This has been an year of extremes. First cold wave claimed about 800 lives , now a ferocious heatwave has taken more than 500 lives just in the past few days.

The maximum fatalities have happened in neigbouring states of AP and Telegana. Toll in Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh alone was 57 on Monday. The state has recorded 302 deaths. The combined figure in AP and Telangana is 517. Met officials warn that the temperatures are likely to soar.

According to information collected from private and Zilla parishad and NMC sources in Nagpur, there have no fatalities in the city
so far but people are advised to take utmost precautions.

“The heatwave is likely to continue in the next 3-4 days, with temperatures ranging between 44 and 47. Eastern UP is likely to see a jump in temperatures, especially in isolated pockets,” said R Vishen of the Met department.

According to the MET department in Nagpur – severe Heat wave conditions prevailed at isolated places over East Vidarbha and Heat wave conditions prevailed at isolated places over Madhya pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The sporadic rains, brought down temperatures very temporarily but then they rose again.

Khammam in Telangana recorded the maximum temperature this season with 48* on Sunday. Delhi recorded the hottest day of the sweltering season on Monday at 45.50 C, five notches above the season’s average. A brief shower cooled the city for a while, but failed to bring down temperatures.

In Odisha, where a deadly heatwave claimed the lives of more than 2000 people in 1998, the death toll due to sun strokes and dehydration was 27 till Monday evening. The highest temperature was recorded at Angul district at 47*.

In UP, Allahabad was the hottest at 47.70 C, followed by Banda at 46.60 C, and Sultanpur at 460 C. State Met director JP Gupta said that there are possibilities of squall or dust thunderstorms due to “overheating”.

“Humidity levels have gone up due to the entry of moisture-laden easterly winds in the state’s atmosphere,” he said.

In AP and Telangana, chief ministers N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrashekhar held emergency meetings and urged district authorities to come up with water and buttermilk outlets for citizens, along with fodder for animals.

As expected, all the victims of the heat wave are poor and destitute people who take shelter in places like bus stops, bus depots and other public places which hardly offer any protection from the hot winds and raging tempratures. According to the latest data from the Zonal Integrated Police Network, under the Union ministry of home affairs, 785 unidentified bodies were recovered in the capital till March 30 this year due to the deathly cold weather that preceeded the heat wave.

“Govt machinery should organise night shelters and shades for destitute living in bus shelters and platforms as they were the immediate casualties,” said Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao.

CM N Chandrababu Naidu declared a compensation of of Rs 1 lakh for the victims, and directed officials to organise special camps providing shelter, food and drinking water besides medicare, like OR packets.

The unprecedented heat wave hit tobacco and chilli crops as crops lay in the open market yard for want of cold storage space. Mango crops in Kurnool, Krishna and Nizamabad districts were the worst hit.

In Kolkata, the trademark yellow taxis refused to ply between 11am and 4pm from this week onwards due to the scorching weather, after two drivers were reported dead last week due to heat.

The National Disaster Management Authority, which was in the process of issuing an advisory, said that with precautions the toll should not rise. “The experience is that once there is a spike in death toll and advisories are released and there is awareness, the death toll goes down,” said NDMC member Kamal Kishore. “The spike in death is due to a mix of things. People do not adjust their daily activities as per the sudden rise in temperatures since last week.”

Met officials said that southwest monsoon winds are travelling towards Kerala, and are expected to arrive sometime near May 30. To stay safe, Vishen said it is best to avoid being outdoors at peak hours. “The time between 12pm and 5pm is when the heat is worst, and people must try to avoid being outdoors, or must stay under shades. Heads must be covered at all times outdoors, and one must stay hydrated.”