Scorching heat kills nearly 1,000 in India

HYDERABAD: Scorching heat has killed nearly 1,000 people across India in the past three weeks, relief officials said yesterday. 

Most of those succumbing to the soaring temperatures had been in the southern Andhra Pradesh state, where at least 900 deaths had been reported. State-run All India Radio said sunstroke and dehydration had claimed another 100 lives in the northern and eastern parts of India, bringing the nationwide toll to about 1,000. 

Meteorologists predicted no relief from the heat wave over the next two days, with monsoon rains in India delayed by a week and likely to hit the southern region this weekend. 

In the worst-hit Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh, temperatures soared to 49°C in some places, said top district administrator Ram Prakash Sisodia. At least 204 deaths were reported in Nalgonda, he said. 

“We are carrying out a publicity campaign to educate people about dos and don'ts to protect themselves from the heat wave,'' Sisodia said. “We have asked them not to come out into the open between 10am and 5pm.'' 

“People have been asked to keep their heads and ears covered with cloth and not to expose themselves to the heat,'' he said. 

The lack of monsoon rains had compounded the crisis. On Sunday, some 100,000 Muslims offered special prayers for rain here in the Andhra Pradesh capital. 

DRYING UP:People gathering to get water from a huge well in Natwarghad in the western Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday.Thevillage is facing its worst drought in over a decade.Dams,wells and ponds have gone dry across parts of the state. - Reuterspic

In another part of the city, more than 5,000 Hindus gathered on the bed of a dried-out lake, chanting sacred hymns and prayers from ancient Hindu texts for a reprieve from the blazing heat. 

Sunday was the hottest day in five years here, with the temperature rising to 44°C, said state Meteorological Centre director C.V. Bhadram. – AP  

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