The Heat Is Online

South India Heat Wave Kills 200 People

India heat wave kills 430, May 27, 2003

HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- A heat wave in a southern Indian state has killed at least 430 people in the past two weeks, a relief official said Tuesday.

The death toll from dehydration and sunstroke, caused by high temperatures and shortages of drinking water, may increase further, said D.C. Roshaiah, chief of relief operations in Andhra Pradesh state.

Roshaiah said hundreds of people were bring treated at hospitals in several parts of state, which has experienced temperatures as high as 47 degrees Celsius (116.60 Fahrenheit).

Seven out of the state's 23 districts accounted for most of the deaths. The highest death toll, 85, has been reported from the coastal district of East Godavari, where temperatures touched 47.5 C (117.50 F) last week.

Last year, a heat wave killed more than 1,000 people in the state, most of them older and unable to bear temperatures that reached up to 50 C (122 F).

Tin-roofed shanties were like ovens for hundreds of thousands of poor people. The state is battling its worst drought in 40 years due to lack of rain last year.

Roshaiah said the death toll was much lower this year, so far, because of the government's precautionary steps which involved crisis monitoring, food-for-work schemes in drought-hit areas and other relief measures.

Weather officials expect the situation to improve as monsoon rains advance toward the southern Indian coast. The rains are expected to the reach Andhra Pradesh state next week.

South India heat wave 'kills 200', May 24, 2003

About 200 people have died in a heat wave sweeping the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh while many other states are experiencing severe drought.

Temperatures have soared as high as 47.2C in the southern state.

The high temperatures led to a shortage of drinking water and deaths through dehydration and sunstroke, said DC Roshaiah, chief of Andhra Pradesh relief operations.

Slight relief came on Friday as the mercury dipped by two degrees in the worst-hit districts on the Bay of Bengal coast.

However, temperatures could rise again in coming days, particularly in the inland northern region of Telangana, the weather office warned.

The provincial government has urged people to stay indoors and drink plenty of fluid.

It has also announced payments of 10,000 rupees ($214) for the families of each victim.

The situation should improve with the approaching monsoon rains, which usually reach the south coast in the first week of June.

Last year, a heat wave killed more than 1,000 people in the state and caused devastating drought.

Rajasthan row

Pakistan has also suffered in the heat wave, with at least 30 dead in the centre and south of the country.

At least 17 people have died in Punjab province, where temperatures hit 47C. Another 13 were reported dead in southern Sindh province.

Droughts accompanying the heat wave have struck many western and northern Indian states.

Rajasthan, which is witnessing its fourth consecutive year of drought, is particularly badly hit.

All 32 districts have been declared drought regions.

The Congress-led government of the state has complained that the BJP-led central government is not providing sufficient aid.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot says he has asked for $1.5bn of central assistance but has received only $130m.

Central government says it has already given more than three million tonnes of grain but Mr Gehlot says it has not reached affected people.

Similar drought conditions prevail in the neighbouring state of Gujarat.

Among the worst affected is the state's Saurashtra region which has been facing a water shortage for almost a decade.

"We are helpless and have to use stinking and dirty water for washing and bathing," said Shehnaz, a resident of Nawagam Ghed in Jamnagar.