Blistering Heatwave Claims Lives Across Eastern India: A Cry for Climate Action

A severe heatwave in eastern India has claimed at least 24 lives, with temperatures soaring to unprecedented levels. Bihar, Odisha, and Jharkhand are the worst affected, while Delhi faces extreme heat and water shortages. Scientists attribute the severe weather patterns to human-driven climate change.

Reuters | Updated: 31-05-2024 16:34 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 16:34 IST
Blistering Heatwave Claims Lives Across Eastern India: A Cry for Climate Action
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At least 24 people died of suspected heatstroke in India's eastern states of Bihar and Odisha on Thursday, and the heatwave in the region is expected to continue until Saturday, authorities said. India has been experiencing a blisteringly hot summer and a part of capital Delhi recorded the country's highest ever temperature at 52.9 degrees Celsius (127.22°F) this week, though that may be revised with the weather department checking the sensors of the weather station that registered the reading.

While temperatures in northwestern and central India are expected to fall in the coming days, the prevailing heatwave over east India is likely to continue for two days, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD), which declares a heatwave when the temperature is 4.5 C to 6.4 C higher than normal. A total of 14 people died in Bihar on Thursday, officials said, including 10 people involved in organising the seven-phase national elections that are currently underway.

Parts of Bihar are voting in the final round of polling on Saturday. The deaths of 10 people were also reported in the government hospital in Odisha's Rourkela region on the same day, authorities told Reuters, prompting the Odisha government to advise against outdoor activities between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when temperatures peak.

Three people died of suspected heatstroke in Jharkhand state, neighbouring Bihar, local media reported. In Delhi, where high temperatures have been causing birds and wild monkeys to faint or fall sick, the city zoo is relying on pools and sprinklers to bring relief to its 1,200 occupants.

"We have shifted to a summer management diet, which includes a more liquid diet as well as all the seasonal fruits and vegetables which contain more water," Sanjeet Kumar, director of the zoo, told news agency ANI. Delhi, where the temperature was 45.4 C on Friday afternoon, recorded its first heat-related death this week and is facing an acute water shortage.

Billions of people across Asia have been grappling with soaring temperatures- a trend scientists say has been worsened by human-driven climate change. India's neighbour Pakistan has also seen a spike in forest fires as temperatures soar, going as high as 52.2 C last week.

India is the world's third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter but has set a target of becoming a net-zero emitter by 2070. While heat is affecting some of the country, the northeastern states of Manipur and Assam have been battered by heavy rainfall after Cyclone Remal, with several areas inundated on Friday.

Monsoon rains also hit the coast of the country's southernmost Kerala state on Thursday, two days earlier than expected. (Additional reporting by Tora Agarwala in Guwahati; Writing by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Philippa Fletcher)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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