Extreme heat kills 25 in India’s Maharashtra state
May 03 2022 11:39 PM
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Reuters/ New Delhi

India’s western state of Maharashtra has registered 25 deaths from heat stroke since late March, the highest toll in the past five years, with more fatalities likely elsewhere in a country sweltering in temperatures over 40C.
Scientists have linked the early onset of an intense summer to climate change, and say more than a billion people in India and neighbouring Pakistan were in some way vulnerable to the extreme heat.
With cooling monsoon rains only expected next month and increasingly frequent power outages in some parts of India, even households that can afford air conditioners will have little respite over the next several weeks.
Many of the deaths in Maharashtra occurred in the more rural areas of India’s richest state.
“These are suspected heat stroke deaths,” Pradeep Awate, a Maharashtra health official, said.
India is the world’s second-biggest wheat producer, but the heat is set to shrivel this year’s crop, after five consecutive years of record harvests.
As power demand surges, generating companies are staring at massive shortages of coal and the government is pleading with them to step up imports.
The government cancelled more than 650 passenger trains through the end of May to clear tracks for more cargo trains as the country scrambles to replenish coal stocks at power plants, a senior official from the country’s railways ministry disclosed.
India recorded its warmest March in over a century, with the maximum temperature across the country rising to 33.1C, nearly 1.86C above normal, according to the India Meteorological Department.
Many parts of India’s north, west and the east saw temperatures surging past 40C last month.
In the eastern state of Odisha, authorities said a 64-year-old man died of heat stroke on April 25 and hundreds of others have been given medical treatment.
In Subarnapur, Odisha’s hottest district, a high of 43.2C was recorded yesterday.
“It is so hot,” Subarnapur resident Mohana Mahakur said. “Fan, air cooler — nothing is working.”
A Punjab agriculture department official said an average increase of up to 7C (12.6 F) in April had reduced wheat yields.
“Because of the heatwave we’ve had a loss of more than 500kg per hectare of our April yield,” the official disclosed.



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