The Heat Is Online

Indian, Pakistani Heat Deaths Top 1,400

Monsoon Showers Ease India's Blistering Heat Wave, June 6, 2003

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Monsoon rains brought down temperatures across parts of India on Friday, easing a severe heat wave that has killed nearly 1,400 people in South Asia in three weeks.

But in neighboring Pakistan, the worst heat wave in more than a decade showed no signs of abating. Several places in the middle of the country reported temperatures on Friday above 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Dozens have died over the past week, a senior official said.

In India, men, women and children in the northeast, which received this season's first showers on Thursday, danced in the rain, while in other parts of the country pre-monsoon showers helped bring down temperatures.

Weather officials said daytime peak temperatures stayed below 47 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit) after soaring this week to 49 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) in some places.

Millions have been searching for water as wells dried up, while many died of heatstroke and dehydration.

The monsoon had yet to hit the southern coast of Kerala state, where it normally breaks on June 1, but pre-monsoon showers indicated it would arrive in the next two or three days, India Meteorological Department officials said.

"The pre-monsoon showers are a great relief," said Harish Menon, a resident of Irinjalakuda town in Kerala. "The heat was becoming unbearable. We in Kerala are used to heavy rains, not high temperatures," he told Reuters.

Monsoon showers also lashed parts of neighboring Bangladesh, bringing down temperatures after a sweltering heat wave had killed 40 people there in the past three weeks.

The heat wave has also killed 70 people in central Pakistan in the past week, Tahir Ali Javed, the health minister of central Punjab province, told Reuters.

An official at Pakistan's meterological department said temperatures in the town of Sibbi, in southwestern Baluchistan province, touched 52 degrees Celsius, the highest recorded temperature in the country on Friday.

"This spell will hopefully subside by the weekend," the official said. Another weather official, Abdu Sattar, described the heat wave as the worst in Pakistan in years.DROUGHT, THEN SORCHING TEMPERATURES

India has been reeling from a three-week hot spell that has killed nearly 1,285 -- most of them homeless rickshaw pullers and street hawkers -- in Andhra Pradesh alone.

Large parts of the country are critically short of water after rivers, lakes and wells dried up because of a drought that followed last year's failed monsoon.

Onkar Prasad, a senior official at the India Meteorological Department, said the heat wave had eased in the east and southeast of India, including in Andhra Pradesh state, where most of the deaths have occurred.

The rains also helped douse forest fires which had broken out in the Himalayan foothills, officials said.

But Prasad said temperatures remained high in the desert state of Rajasthan and other parts of central India.

India is heavily dependent on the monsoon, and good rains are seen as crucial to achieving its aim of economic growth of six percent this year.

About 70 percent of India's people live off the land and agriculture makes up about a quarter of the economy.


Indian heatwave toll hits 1,100, June 3, 2003 Posted: 0507 GMT ( 1:07 PM HKT)

HYDERABAD, India (AP) -- Scorching heat has killed more than 1,100 people across India in the past three weeks, according to relief officials.

Most of those succumbing to soaring temperatures have been in southern Andhra Pradesh state, where at least 1,020 deaths have been reported, D. C. Roshaiah, the state's relief commissioner, said Monday.

State-run All India Radio put the nationwide toll at about 1,100 dead.

In Andhra Pradesh state's Nalgonda district, where at least 204 people have died, temperatures soared over 48 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places, top district administrator Ram Prakash Sisodia said.

"We are carrying out a publicity campaign to educate people about do's and don'ts to protect themselves from the heat wave," Sisodia said. "We have asked them not to come out into open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m."

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

Lack of monsoon rains have contributed to the problem.

On Sunday, some 100,000 Muslims offered special prayers for rain in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

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 that has gripped the state.

But meteorologists said there would be no relief from the heat wave for another two days in Andhra Pradesh.

"Similar heat wave conditions will continue to prevail for at least another 48 hours," C. V. Bhadram, director of the meteorological center in Hyderabad, said.

India heat deaths near 1,000, June 2, 2003

More than 900 people are now believed to have died in a severe heat wave in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Indian radio is reporting another 100 deaths in other parts of the country, bringing the suspected death toll to about 1,000.

The heat reached its highest levels on Sunday and some parts recorded temperatures of over 50C (122 F.)

Last year more than 1,000 people died in a similar heat wave in India's southern states.

The district of Nalgonda is the worst hit area where the death toll has risen to 204.

Weather officials say there is no respite and the monsoon is likely to arrive several days behind schedule.

Hottest place

Hyderabad has experienced its highest temperatures in about seven years and hot, dry winds have forced most people to remain indoors.

The town of Kottagudem in Khammam district has remained the hottest place, recording temperatures as high as 51.3C on Sunday evening.

Officials say that the situation is unlikely to change in the next two days.

A publicity campaign is under way to help educate people on how to protect themselves from the heat wave and recommends that they do not go outdoors between 10.00 and 17.00.

"People have been asked to keep their heads and ears covered with cloth and not to expose themselves to the heat," senior district administrator Ram Prakash Sisodia said.

Other states across India have also been seriously affected by the extreme temperatures and drought.

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

All 32 districts have been declared drought regions.

On Sunday, about 100,000 Muslims offered special prayers for rain in Hyderabad.

Elsewhere in the city, more than 5,000 Hindus gathered on the bed of a dried out lake, chanting sacred hymns and praying for an end to the deadly heat.