The Heat Is Online

Indian Heat Wave Leaves More than 1000 People Dead

Heat Wave in India Kills 1,000

The Associated Press, May 22, 2002

HYDERABAD, India -- More than 1,030 people have died in a heat wave in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the highest one-week toll on record for any Indian heat wave, authorities said Wednesday. Most of the victims were elderly and poor.

Northern desert winds have led to an abnormally hot May in southern India, with temperatures more than 7 percent above the monthly average. The northern parts of the country have also been baking.

All the deaths occurred May 9-15, when temperatures soared to 120 degrees along the Bay of Bengal, said D.C. Roshaiah, Andhra Pradesh's relief commissioner.

The deaths were expected to taper off as the second week of the heat wave was not so intense, Roashaiah said, adding that there has not been a reported death during the last two days.

Early monsoon rains last week cooled some regions, but the coastal regions still suffer.

At least 172 deaths were reported from the coastal East Godavari district, where temperatures hovered above 109 degrees Wednesday, Roshaiah said.

In the port city of Kakinada, 355 miles east of Hyderabad, the state capital, Wednesday's highest temperature of 110.5 degrees was recorded.

It is the highest one-week toll on record for any Indian heat wave, meteorologists said.

Similar heat waves struck Andhra Pradesh in 1996 and 1998. Andhra Pradesh is the fifth-largest state in India, with 76 million people.

The heat wave conditions were likely to prevail over the coastal belt through Friday as monsoon rains were not expected for a few days, said C.V. Bhadram, director of the meteorological office in Hyderabad.

Last week the death toll in Andhra Pradesh had reached 640, but reports from outlying areas caused the official figure to rise. The dead were mostly elderly and poor who did not have the strength to withstand the heat, which causes dehydration and sunstroke.

Farm laborers and rickshaw pullers who had worked instead of taking shelter also died.

Health workers earlier had said the number of dead would have been higher had local officials not issued warnings and supplied extra drinking water to the poor.

Officials have set up a scientific committee to establish whether global warming was causing the heat wave. However, meteorologists blamed scorching desert winds from the northwest, saying that heat waves always precede the monsoon rains.

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press

Heat abates in southern India

The heat wave has hurt India's farmers the most

BBCNews.com, May 17, 2002

Heavy rains have lowered the temperature in many parts of Andhra Pradesh, the southern Indian state hit hardest by the recent heat wave.

Coastal districts along the Bay of Bengal experienced heavy showers which lowered the temperature from 49C in many areas to more bearable levels.

State capital Hyderabad has seen heavy downpours since Thursday and the temperature there has dropped by 10C to 33C.

But as reports of casualties come in from remote parts of the state, the toll of heat-related deaths has risen to 622.

State Relief Commissioner DC Roshaiah says West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur are the worst-hit districts, with each reporting more than 100 deaths.

Dry wells

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu described the tragedy as unprecedented in the state's history and offered 50,000 rupees ($1,000) to the family of every victim.

He has asked the central government in Delhi for emergency assistance and help with medical relief for the affected areas in his state.

The heat wave has affected agricultural land, some of which will not support crops until rains restore the underground water-table.

Many villagers who rely on wells to draw water for drinking and washing have seen their water sources run dry.

Now that the rains have begun, hopes have risen that life will return to normal.

Besides Andhra Pradesh, northern Indian states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and the federal capital Delhi too have been baking for the past couple of weeks.

Normally, much needed monsoon rains fall across much of the subcontinent in late May or early June.

Heat 'kills 450' in southern India

Large areas of India are scorched and dry

BBCNews.com, May 16, 2002

A heatwave sweeping the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has now killed 450 people in less than a week, state relief officials say.

Nearly 100 others have suffered heat-related deaths in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Orissa, and 40 more have died in the last nine days in Pakistan.

Andhra Pradesh Assistant Relief Secretary Jagdish Reddy said fresh reports of deaths, mainly among the poor and the elderly, had pushed casualty figures to 450 since 10 May.

Temperatures were as high as 41C along the coast of the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, he told the Associated Press.

The Andhra Pradesh government has advised people to stay indoors and drink plenty of water until cooler weather arrives - probably in three or four days.

Heatstroke

Many of the deaths in the state, where temperatures have soared on occasion to a blistering 49C, have been among elderly street vendors overcome by heatstroke and dehydration.

On Wednesday the state's Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, said the tragedy was unparalleled in the state's history.

Mr. Naidu said his government would provide 50,000 rupees to the family of every victim.

Meteorologists say the heatwave is caused by winds blowing from deserts in north-western India. Indian weathermen say the heat wave is expected to recede once the monsoon rains arrive in early June.

Suffering

This is not the first time that large parts of India have reeled under oppressively high temperatures.

CVV Bhadram, Director of Meteorology in Hyderabad, says a May heatwave is not surprising.

"But what is unusual this time is the intensity and the persistence for over a week," he says.

The administrator of worst-hit Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, where the official death toll has reached 84, says elderly people and the young are particularly vulnerable.

But social activists like Gayathri Ramachandran see these deaths as part of an economic problem.

"Usually it is the people forced to work in this harsh weather who suffer sun strokes and other heat related problems," she says. "Undernourishment is also a problem."

Hundreds die in Indian heat

BBCNews, May 15, 2002

Nearly 400 people have died in a week of searing heat in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, officials say.

The state's Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, said the tragedy was unparalleled in the state's history.

He said 373 deaths had so far been confirmed. Unofficial figures put casualties above 500.

Many of the deaths in Andhra Pradesh, where temperatures have soared on occasion to a blistering 49C, have been among elderly street vendors overcome by heatstroke and dehydration.

The Andhra Pradesh government has advised people to stay indoors and drink plenty of water until cooler weather arrives - probably in three or four days.

Mr Naidu said his government would provide 50,000 rupees to the family of every victim.

Meteorologists say the heatwave is caused by winds blowing from deserts in north-western India.

Monsoons

There have also been deaths in other states and in Pakistan.

  • State police in Rajasthan have reported 18 heat-related deaths in the last fortnight.
  • Four people have died in central Madhya Pradesh state of similar causes since the beginning of May.

In north-west India, Punjab and Haryana states, as well as the federal capital, Delhi, have all seen very high temperatures, but no deaths have been reported there.

Indian weathermen say the heat wave is expected to recede once the monsoon rains arrive in early June.

'Poor suffer'

This is not the first time that large parts of India have reeled under oppressively high temperatures.

CVV Bhadram, Director of Meteorology in Hyderabad, says a May heatwave is not surprising.

"But what is unusual this time is the intensity and the persistence for over a week," he says.

The administrator of worst-hit Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, where the official death toll has reached 84, says elderly people and the young are particularly vulnerable.

But social activists like Gayathri Ramachandran see these deaths as part of an economic problem.

"Usually it is the people forced to work in this harsh weather who suffer sun strokes and other heat related problems," she says.

"Undernourishment is also a problem."

Heat Wave Kills At Least 50 in India
The Associated Press, May 13, 2002

HYDERABAD, India -- A weeklong heat wave that has pushed the temperature in southeastern India to 120 degrees has killed more than 50 people, government officials and news reports said Monday.

The deaths in southern Andhra Pradesh state were caused from dehydration, state Relief Commissioner D.C. Roshaiah said.

"Most of the victims of the sunstroke are from the poor families," Roshaiah said, adding that the death toll could increase because the heat wave likely will continue for a few more days.

The largest number of deaths -- 10 -- was reported in Vijaywada, where the temperature reached a record high of 120 degrees on Friday, Roshaiah said. Vijaywada city is 170 miles southeast of Hyderabad, the state capital.

In other regions of the state, the maximum temperature reached 118 degrees, he said. The streets of many cities and towns remained deserted during the day.

"The heat wave is likely to continue for another two or three days. We have issued a warning to the people to remain indoors, especially around noon, and consume a lot of water," said the state's chief weather officer, C.V.V. Bhadram.

Bhadram attributed the heat wave to winds blowing over from the desert in northwestern India. The northern states also have experienced a heat wave, but authorities have not reported any casualties.

Also Monday, the Press Trust of India news agency said at least four people had died of heat stroke in central Madhya Pradesh state.

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press