With temperatures reaching over 117 degrees Fahrenheit, a heat wave in India has killed over 2,000 people as of May 31.
This is India’s deadliest heat wave since 1979, and the world’s fifth deadliest heat wave in history. India’s previous heat wave was in 2010, where hundreds of people died, but it was not as intense as this one.
May is India’s hottest month, and the temperature usually reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit (41 C). Temperatures in Delhi have reached 114 degrees F (45.5 C), and the state of Allahabad reached 117.8 degrees F (47.7 C)
Heat waves are usually due to a lack of rain. These heat waves cause intense cramps, dehydration, exhaustion, and of course, heat strokes.
Hospitals are filled with patients suffering from heat strokes and patients complaining of headaches, dizziness, and even displaying signs of delirium. Some people have also died of heart attacks and kidney failure, which were triggered by the intense heat.
Even taxi drivers have refused to work during the afternoon hours since some drivers have died in their own cabs.
Most deaths have been recorded from the south, specifically in the rural areas. According to the Commissioner of the Disaster Management Department of the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, 1,636 people have died in her state. However, a recent thunderstorm in Anantapur (a town in Andhra Pradesh) has brought some relief to the people.
Another 541 people died in Telangana, West Bengal and Orissa.
Many of the victims of the heatstroke include people that were working outside or were homeless.
Freshman Kirtana Madiraju says, “When I heard about the heat stroke, I was really scared because I have family living in India. Fortunately, where they live, the temperatures have been slowly dropping.”
According to authorities, the extreme dry heat is being blown into India from Pakistan’s Sindhi province. Some people believe the winds are coming from the northwestern deserts of India.
The heat is bearable; what’s not is the humidity and heat combined. The hot temperatures are accompanied by high humidity (43 percent), both of which combined can trigger death.
The government has taken up programs on television to warn people to wear a cap and carry a water bottle before going outside or not go outside at all. The government has also set up water camps for people in towns, and water tanks were delivered to over 4,000 villages.
Since the government cannot actually do anything to stop the heat, the people have to help themselves.
In attempts to cool their bodies, people have been bathing in rivers and jumping into wells. Since several houses and stores have lost electricity, people are rushing to malls with air conditioning and several backup generators.
The weather will most likely cool down within the next few weeks. However, the cooler temperatures are not expected to reach the northern areas for weeks after the monsoon.
Sophmore Sanjana Ojha says, “Thankfully, I have never been in this kind of situation myself, but I’m not sure what I would do to keep myself cool and not lose my sanity.”
What would you do if you were stuck in a heat wave?