Unusual temperatures for the time of year are also causing power outages, landfill fires and wheat crop failure. In neighboring Pakistan, there is a risk of flooding due to extreme thawing.
the strong heat wave that hits india killed at least 25 people from heat stroke since the end of March in Maharashtra, the richest state in the country, whose capital is Mumbai, informed local authorities.
THE number is the highest in the last five years and it is considered likely that there will be more victims of heat stroke in other parts of the country, as temperatures have exceeded 40ºC, in a time when it is not usually so hot in India. Many of the deaths in Maharashtra took place in rural areas.
India: Death toll from heat is highest in five years (Photo: AMIT DAVE/REUTERS – DW release)
In the eastern state of Odisha, authorities said a 64-year-old man died of heat stroke on April 25 and hundreds of other residents received medical attention. In Subarnapur, the hottest district in Odisha, untilmaximum temperature was 43.2 °C on Tuesday (03/05).
Scientists have linked the early onset of an intense summer to climate change and say that more than 1 billion people in India and neighboring Pakistan are, in one way or another, vulnerable to extreme heat.
“Before the rise in global temperatures, we would have experienced the heat that India did in April about once every 50 years,” explains Mariam Zachariah of Imperial College London. Now, such an event occurs every four years – and as long as the emission of greenhouse gases is not stopped, it will occur even more frequently, scientists say.
With cold monsoon rains predicted for June only and increasingly frequent power outages in some parts of India, even the wealthiest families, who can afford air conditioners, face the unrelenting heat.
As the demand for energy increases, generating companies are facing extreme coal shortage, on which the country is very dependent. The government asks them to intensify imports.
Wheat crop failure
India is the second largest wheat producer in the world, but the intense heat should also reduce the harvest this year, after five consecutive years of records.
In the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, there has already been a 10% to 35% drop in production due to the early heat wave, according to The Economic Times.
Hottest March in 100 years
India has registered hottest March in over a century, with the maximum temperature across the country rising to 33.1°C, nearly 1.86°C above normal, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. Many parts of the north, west and east had temperatures above 40°C.
Some landfills caught fire from the heat and buildup of gases, the fire department said. In the capital, New Delhi, the Bhalswa landfill – which covers an area of more than 50 football fields and has a pile of debris taller than a 17-story building – has been on fire for days, covering the area with toxic smoke. . Some schools had to close. Children and the elderly, in particular, have had breathing problems from the gas, India Today TV reported.
Pakistan warns of flooding
In Pakistan, India’s neighbor, the authorities warned of flooding due to rapid melting of snow in Hindu Kush mountains.
The local government put the civil defense authority on alert. According to Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, the amount of rain in 2022 was less than half that of previous years.