A massive heatwave across India has killed 800 people over the last two weeks.
The majority of the deaths came in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and people in India have been advised to stay inside as temperatures rose so high that roads melted, according to The Hindustan Times.
Deaths reported in various states
According to authorities, construction workers, the elderly and the homeless made up a large proportion of the deceased. Weather forecasts predict that the heatwave will continue this week, and temperatures are only expected to drop when the southwest monsoon hits India around May 31.
551 deaths have been reported in Andhra Pradesh, while 266 people died in Telangana, where temperatures reached 44.5 degrees Celsius in Ramagundam city. Jangameswarapuram in Andhra recorded temperatures of 46.4 degrees Celsius, but luckily there were no power cuts.
Officials issued “red box” warnings for Odisha, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. The warning flags up high risk of heatstroke, dehydration and fatality as temperatures soared to more than 45 degrees Celsius. Dry, sweltering winds worsened the situation.
High temperatures and high levels of humidity made for terrible conditions in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. A maximum temperature of 43.5 degrees Celsius, married to a relative humidity level of 70%, made for unbearable conditions for residents of the city. Temperatures reached 46.1 degrees Celsius in Agra, making it the hottest part of the state.
Abnormal weather patterns cause heatwave
Meteorologists say that the heatwave in India is a product of a sudden end to pre-monsoon showers and missing storms. A cyclonic weather pattern in the Arabian Sea failed to turn into a storm two weeks ago, while depressions, which are known to bring rain, moved up towards the northwestern states of India.
67 deaths were reported in the Balangir district of Odisha, where temperatures reached 47.6 degrees Celsius. The mercury hit 45 degrees Celsius in Delhi, where zebra crossings melted due to the heat.
Residents of Jharkhand state were fortunate that intermittent rain cooled temperatures to a relatively comfortable 35 degrees Celsius. West Bengal also received some rain, a bonus for residents of Kolkata.
India: Officials advise residents to take precautions
People largely elected to stay inside in Rajasthan, where markets were deserted during peak hours. Seven deaths were reported in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, where officials issued an “orange alert,” warning of an extended heatwave with temperatures between 43 and 45 degrees Celsius for the next week.
Residents have been advised to stay indoors and take on plenty of fluids. Authorities say that people should be conscious of their health over the next week or so. Large scale power cuts are expected if the heat does not abate. In 2012 a huge blackout left 600 million people in India without electricity, and there are fears that events could repeat themselves if the heatwave continues.
Law and order issues on the rise
Only around a third of a population of 1.25 billion people in India have access to electricity, and those that do are causing power outages due to increased demand for electricity in order to operate fans and air conditioning equipment. Thousands of people have been descending on air-conditioned locations, including malls, shops and restaurants, causing overcrowding and leading to problems with security.
Road rage is increasing in Delhi as traffic jams are worsened by the fact that electric stop signals are no longer functioning. Many households have no access to water due to electric pumps shutting down, making daily life a struggle for thousands of people.
Irate crowds have been threatening violence outside power stations, and police have been sent in to disperse them. The law and order situation could continue to deteriorate if solutions cannot be found.