India Endures Longest Heatwave: Rising Death Toll and Severe Conditions

India Endures Longest Heatwave: Rising Death Toll and Severe Conditions

A severe heatwave continues to cause significant disruptions in India, with the eastern state of Odisha reporting eight deaths over a recent 72-hour span.

Official statistics from May indicated that 60 people had succumbed to heat-related illnesses between March and May across the country. However, the actual number is likely higher due to underreporting in rural regions.

India is currently experiencing its longest recorded heatwave, with temperatures recently exceeding 50°C in some areas. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) mentioned to the Indian Express that this heatwave has lasted about 24 days across various parts of the country.

Northern India has been enduring extreme heat since mid-May, with temperatures ranging between 45-50°C in several cities. Water shortages have compounded the crisis, as the extreme heat increases demand.

Earlier this month, at least 18 polling officials in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar died from heat-related illnesses during the final phase of the general elections.

Additionally, on 31 May, at least 33 people, including election officials, died from suspected heatstroke in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Odisha. The monsoon, which began in Kerala on 30 May, is expected to provide some relief as it moves northward in the coming days.

The IMD has forecasted an above-average monsoon season this year but warns that heatwaves will become more frequent, prolonged, and intense without preventive measures. The weather office has predicted continued heatwave conditions in northwest and eastern India for the next five days. As the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India heavily depends on coal for power generation.

Mohapatra highlighted that human activities, population growth, industrialization, and transportation are increasing levels of carbon monoxide, methane, and chlorocarbons, posing risks to current and future generations.

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