India’s heatwave claims over 50 lives in three days

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India’s heatwave death toll rises to 56, compensation for election personnel announced.

NEW DELHI, India, June 4: India is reeling from a severe heatwave that has claimed the lives of over 50 people in the past three days, with temperatures soaring to record-breaking highs. The heatwave has been particularly devastating in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 33 people died over the weekend due to heat stroke.

In Odisha (Orissa) state, about 20 people died due to heat stroke, an official told ANI news agency. Many of these deaths were reported on June 1, as India voted in the last phase of polling for its general election. The results of the election are set to be announced on June 4.

The federal health ministry has confirmed at least 56 heatstroke deaths from March 1 to May 30, with 24,849 heatstroke cases reported during the period. However, state-wise figures suggest the actual number could be much higher.

In Uttar Pradesh, several volunteer policemen, polling officials, security guards, and sanitation staff were among those who died over the weekend. Navdeep Rinwa, chief electoral officer of the state, told reporters that the families of deceased election personnel would be given a monetary compensation of 1.5 million rupees ($18,000; £14,000).

Suspected heat-related deaths have also been reported in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand. India’s National Centre for Disease Control calls heat strokes a “life-threatening” condition with a mortality rate of 40-64%.

The heat in northern and central India and parts of the west has been unrelenting for the past two weeks, with maximum temperatures hovering around 45-46°C for days at a stretch and climbing up to 50°C in some areas. However, India’s weather department says that temperatures will likely fall in the coming days due to the onset of the monsoon.

Several regions are experiencing severe water and electricity shortages due to rising power consumption. Videos from the capital Delhi show people jostling for water from water tankers. Many parts of the capital are also experiencing frequent power cuts.

The heatwave has brought the country to a standstill, with people struggling to cope with the extreme temperatures. The government has been working to relieve those affected, but the situation remains dire.

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