May 2015 – INDIA – The death toll in the sweltering heat sweeping many parts of the country climbed to 2,005 today, with 414 lives being claimed by the scorching sun in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana since yesterday. –India Express
Hospitals in India are struggling to cope with an influx of victims of a blistering heat wave that has claimed nearly 1,800 lives in just over a week. Hundreds of people – mainly from the poorest sections of society – die at the height of summer every year in India but this year’s figures are unusually high. In southern Andhra Pradesh – by far the worst-hit state – 1020 people have died since May 18, more than double the number of heat-related deaths for the whole of last year. In neighboring Telangana, where temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius over the weekend, 340 people have died from the heat recently compared to 31 in the whole of last year. “Heat wave conditions in 2015 so far have been of a shorter duration, yet with a higher death toll,” said the Centre for Science and Environment’s Arjuna Srinidhi on Thursday.
“This could be due to the sudden change in temperatures after a prolonged wet February and March that had kept the temperatures cool.” Hospitals in New Delhi, where top temperatures have soared to 45 degrees, are struggling to cope with the fallout. “Hospitals are overflowing with heatstroke victims,” said Ajay Lekhi, president of the Delhi Medical Association. “Patients are complaining of severe headache and dizziness. They are also showing symptoms of delirium,” he added. The surge in demand for electricity from air conditioners led to power cuts in parts of Delhi, exacerbating the misery. Large queues formed outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, one of Delhi’s largest government-run hospitals, where women clutched plastic water bottles and packets of mango juice.
Others tried to console crying babies, their heads wrapped in handkerchiefs. “Last night there was no electricity for nearly five hours,” 31-year-old housewife Seema Sharma said outside the hospital as she waited in line for her four-year-old son to be seen. “You can imagine what we must have gone through. He just couldn’t sleep and kept on crying. Now he has fever as well,” she said. Unconfirmed reports said two people had died in Delhi, where tens of thousands sleep on the streets with little protection from the heat. State authorities have ordered coolers be installed in shelters for homeless people, which are often windowless tin shacks. Most are equipped only with small fans, meaning temperatures inside are often considerably higher than outdoors.
“When the temperature soars it becomes difficult to sleep inside the tin cabin,” a 54-year-old Delhi construction worker told the Hindustan Times daily. “Sleeping on the road is a much better option.” Forecasters say there is little hope of any immediate respite from the blistering sun in the country’s north. “We think that these heatwave conditions will take another four to five days to subside,” said Brahma Prakash Yadav, director of the Indian Meteorological Department. –SMH