Indian heatwave death toll rises above 1,800

Crops ‘scorched’ in 47 degree heat with forecasters warning of potential drought

Men sleep on a temporary shade built over a drain next to a slum during a heatwave in New Delhi, India, May 28th, 2015. Photograph: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

Men sleep on a temporary shade built over a drain next to a slum during a heatwave in New Delhi, India, May 28th, 2015. Photograph: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

 

The death toll in a weeks-long heatwave in India has now risen to at least 1,826.

Meteorological officials called the hot weather “severe” and warned it would continue for at least another two days across a huge swathe of the 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 heatstroke, have been in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,where temperatures have soared to 47 degrees.

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.

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.

Reuters