NEW DELHI: Rains which have begun drenching parts of northeast India have also started in southwest Kerala state, bringing hope that relief is in sight for millions suffering in a searing heat wave that has already killed more than 1,200 people.
News reports yesterday said showers had cooled some parts of Kerala but cautioned that the rains were not the much awaited monsoons, which have been delayed by at least a week.
The monsoon rains, which traditionally hit Kerala on June 1, were now expected to hit the state on June 8 or 10, the weather office said.
Meanwhile, northeastern India could expect heavy monsoon rains anytime, weather officials said after isolated showers were recorded in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
India's southwest monsoon rains are crucial for sustaining agricultural production, which provides a livelihood to two-thirds of India's population.
Delayed monsoons resulted in a drought last year in several states which clipped annual economic growth and depleted food stocks.
In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, authorities Friday extended a heat alert for another 48 hours, signalling no respite yet from the sizzling temperatures.
Weather officials in Hyderabad warned that monsoons rains were not expected in the state for another 10 days.
Most of the casualties in Andhra Pradesh are the poor who were braving the blistering heat to work in their farms or earn money through labour.
The state has one of the highest concentrations of India's poorest people. Almost 12 million people, or 15% of the population, live below the government designated poverty line. – AFP