By Mubasshir Mushtaq
The heatwave death toll rose sharply on Thursday as two of India’s southern states continued to be under scorching heat for the eight consecutive day.
The death toll stood at 1826 on Thursday as 414 people succumbed to the extreme heat, sunstroke and dehydration related incidents in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states since Wednesday.
YK Reddy, a senior meteorological official told reporters in Hyderabad city, the joint state capital, that the heatwave warning had been extended two more days.
State officials said that over 1,300 people died in Andhra Pradesh in the past week while Telangana registered a death toll of over 400.
Most of the victims of the heatwave are poor elderly or laborers who work in direct sunlight. Construction workers, cart-pullers, street vendors, and homeless people were among the victims.
Thursday witnessed a few thunderstorms in northern region of Andhra Pradesh but the southern areas continued to suffer from intense heat as temperatures were above 107.6 F (42C).
The two southern states were faced with the challenge of providing clean drinking water and butter milk in public places but members of opposition parties have questioned state governments’ efforts to ensure people’s safety.
“#HeatWave in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana mirrors a national calamity. Government should have been proactive and built necessary infra, poor are worst affected,” Ahmed Patel, political secretary to India’s opposition leader Sonia Gandhi, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Both state governments have cancelled leave for doctors asking them to remain present at government hospitals and give special attention to the heat-related ailments.
The ongoing heatwave, the worst in south Indian history, has brought in to the table the climate change debate that a quasi-unanimous majority of experts believe to be man-made.
Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment, termed the heatwave as more than “natural calamity” and said climate change is the cause for the heatwave.
“This is absolutely a man-made calamity,” Narain told private news channel India Today.
Temperatures continued to soar above 104 F (40C) degree Celsius as heatwave conditions prevailed in other Indian states particularly in northern states of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and northwestern desert state of Rajasthan.
In New Delhi, television images showed melted asphalt on the road as a result of intense heat in the national capital.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is generally seen as a proactive and strong leader, was yet to make a statement on the heatwave.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.