An extreme heat wave with temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) has killed at least 1,118 people over the past week in India, where hot air, molten tarmac, dust storms are making life almost unbearable.
The homeless, construction workers, newborns, young children and elderly people are most at risk in this weather. In the state of Andhra Pradesh alone, where temperatures climbed to 47 degrees Celsius or 116 Fahrenheit on Monday, 852 people have died. In the neighbouring Telangana state, 266 people have died in the last week as temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius or 118 Fahrenheit, the BBC reports.
Hospitals are struggling to treat victims of dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and tens of thousands are suffering through power cuts from the overloaded electrical grid. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) advises people to stay indoors, wear loose clothing, and drink water — even if they’re not thirsty.
Heat waves are not unusual in between March and June in South Asia, but experts point to climate change to explain more and more extreme weather conditions in this part of the year, predicting longer and more intense heat waves in the region. Lack of rain combined with dry, hot winds from the desert state of Rajasthan are responsible for the recent heatwave say meteorologists, who don’t expect conditions to get better until the arrival of monsoon in June.
Until then, top temperatures in New Delhi, home to 23 million people, could remain around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), according to Brahma Prakash Yadav, director of the Indian Meteorological Department. The following images depict these shocking conditions.
HEAT WAVE. Asphalt starts to melt due to the high temperature in New Delhi, India. (Harish Tyagi/EPA) pic.twitter.com/YqhARbkpea
An Indian man rests inside a concrete pipe on a hot summer day in Hyderabad, India, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Photo: Mahesh Kumar A./AP
Pigeons fly over a traffic signal near the Indian Presidential Palace during a brief dust storm in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Photo: Altaf Qadri/AP
An Indian passenger takes a bath beside rail tracks at a railway station in Jammu, India, Monday, May 25, 2015. Photo: Channi Anand/AP
Indian woman cover their faces with scarves to shield themselves from the heat as they ride a scooter in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Photo: Ajit Solanki/AP
An Indian motorist covers his face with a scarf to protect himself from the heat in Hyderabad, India, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Photo: Mahesh Kumar A./AP
Indians collect drinking water from a leaking water pipeline on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Saturday, May 23, 2015. Photo: Channi Anand/AP
A young boy, son of a labourer, walks to a water pump to fill his bottle with drinking water in Ghasera, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Photo: Saurabh Das/AP
Young boys dive into a water tank in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Photo: Saurabh Das/AP
A rickshaw puller rests in Kolkata, India, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Photo: Bikas Das/AP
An Indian girl dances in artificial rain at Jalavihar water park in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Photo: Mahesh Kumar A./AP