At least 800 people have died in a major heatwave that has swept across India, melting roads in New Delhi as temperatures neared 50?C.
Hospitals were on alert to treat victims of heatstroke and authorities advised people to stay indoors with no end in sight to the searing conditions.
In the worst-hit state of Andhra Pradesh, in the south, 551 people have died in the last week as temperatures hit 47?C on Monday.
“The state government has taken up education programs through television and other media to tell people not to venture into the outside without a cap, to drink water and other measures,” Andhra Pradesh Disaster Management Special Commissioner P. Tulsi Rani said. “We have also requested NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and government organizations to open up drinking water camps so that water will be readily available for all the people in the towns.”
Large parts of India, including the capital, New Delhi, have endured days of sweltering heat, prompting fears of power cuts as air conditioners work overtime.
The Hindustan Times daily said the maximum temperature in the capital hit a two-year high of 45.5?C on Monday — five degrees higher than the seasonal average.
The newspaper carried a front-page photograph of a main road in the city melting in the heat, its zebra pedestrian crossing stripes curling and spreading into the asphalt.
“It’s baking hot out here — our outing has turned into a nightmare,” said Meena Sheshadri, a 37-year-old tourist from Pune who was visiting Delhi’s India Gate monument with her children. “My throat is parched, even though I’ve been constantly sipping water.”
In Telangana State, which borders Andhra Pradesh, 231 people have died in the past week as temperatures hit 48?C over the weekend. In the western state of Orissa 11 people were confirmed to have died from the heat, while another 13 died in West Bengal.
The Indian Meteorological Department issued a “red box” warning for the state for yesterday and today — meaning the maximum temperatures would remain above 45?C.
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