India's Deadly Heatwaves and Severe Floods Claim Over 100 Lives and Impact Thousands

India's Deadly Heatwaves and Severe Floods Claim Over 100 Lives and Impact Thousands

New Delhi - The summer of 2024 in India has been marked by extreme weather conditions, claiming over 100 lives and affecting the health of thousands. Amid a prolonged heatwave, over 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases have been reported due to relentless high temperatures. Simultaneously, heavy rainfall has triggered severe floods, particularly in the northeastern region, exacerbating the crisis.

North India has experienced temperatures soaring close to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) during one of the longest heatwave spells on record. This extreme weather, part of a larger trend affecting billions across Asia, is largely attributed to human-driven climate change.

The intense heat has had devastating effects on both humans and wildlife. Birds have been collapsing from the sky, and hospitals have seen a surge in patients suffering from heat-related conditions. In response, the health ministry has directed federal and state institutions to prioritize these cases. Hospitals in Delhi, which is also facing a water shortage, have been instructed to increase bed capacity. A health ministry official confirmed over 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases and at least 110 confirmed deaths between March 1 and June 18. During this period, northwest and eastern India experienced twice the usual number of heatwave days. Meteorologists predict above-normal temperatures for the coming month, underscoring the issue of Indian cities turning into "heat traps" due to unbalanced urban growth.

Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, highlighted the impact on wildlife, stating, "During the ongoing heatwave, most bird rescue calls we receive are due to birds falling from the skies." Wildlife SOS has been receiving more than 35-40 rescue calls daily in and around the Delhi-National Capital Region, most of which involve bird rescue requests.

In the northeastern state of Assam, floods and landslides caused by continuous rain have resulted in additional fatalities. At least six people died on Tuesday night due to these events. "A landslide buried a woman and her three daughters alive," said Siju Das, a state disaster management official. "Their house was on a slope, and they died on the spot around midnight," he added, noting that rescuers retrieved the bodies after a three-hour search operation. "A three-year-old was killed too."

In Assam, more than 160,000 people have been affected by the floods, with water levels in the Kopili River, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra, surpassing the danger mark. Since the end of May, over 30 people have died in the state due to floods and landslides. As the season continues, the extreme weather in India remains a significant concern.

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