Record Heat Wave Triggers Red Alert and Water Shortages in Delhi

Record Heat Wave Triggers Red Alert and Water Shortages in Delhi

India's meteorological department issued a red alert for several northwestern regions on Wednesday, warning of an intense heat wave after parts of Delhi recorded temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) – the highest ever for the city.

The red alert signifies a "very high likelihood" of heat-related illnesses and heat stroke, urging extreme precautions for vulnerable populations. The weather department anticipates "heat wave to severe heat wave" conditions to persist in various areas, including the capital, through Wednesday.

India defines a heat wave when temperatures are 4.5 to 6.4 degrees Celsius above normal, and a severe heat wave when they exceed 6.5 degrees above average.

In Delhi's Mungeshpur and Narela neighborhoods, temperatures hit 49.9 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, a record high for the city and 9 degrees above normal. Consequently, Delhi's local government imposed water restrictions due to the heat, noting reduced levels in the Yamuna River, the city's main water source. While the city lacks a continuous water supply, areas receiving water twice daily will face additional cutbacks.

Atishi, Delhi's Water Minister, urged residents to use water sparingly, irrespective of existing shortages.

Across Asia, including neighboring Pakistan, billions are experiencing unusually high temperatures this summer, a phenomenon scientists link to human-driven climate change.

In Jaipur, Rajasthan, three more heat stroke-related deaths were reported on Tuesday, raising the city's toll to four and the state's to at least 13.

The heat wave also led India's electoral commission to implement extra measures during recent national elections in Delhi, including deploying paramedics at polling stations and providing mist machines, shaded waiting areas, and cold water dispensers. The elections conclude on June 1, with results counting set for June 4.

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