Heat-related deaths rise in northern India

Cherylann Mollan,BBC News, Mumbai

Getty Images A hospital staff member pours water on the face of a patient suffering from heat stroke at a government hospital during a severe heat wave in Varanasi on May 30, 2024. Extreme temperatures across India are having its worst impact in the country's packed megacities, according to experts.  he said on May 30, warning that the heat is quickly becoming a public health crisis.  India is enduring a devastating heat wave with temperatures in several cities exceeding 45 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).  (Photo by Niharika KULKARNI/AFP) (Photo by NIHARIKA KULKARNI/AFP via Getty Images)fake images

A staff member pours water on the face of a patient suffering from heat stroke at a hospital in Varanasi.

Several people have died due to heat-related ailments in the last 24 hours as temperatures continue to rise in northern and central India.

Ten deaths were recorded at the government hospital in Odisha’s Rourkela region on Thursday, officials told Reuters news agency.

Deaths related to heat stroke have also been reported in the states of Bihar, Rajasthan and Jharkhand and in the national capital, Delhi.

The scorching heat comes as India holds its general elections, the results of which will be announced on June 4.

Getty Images NEW DELHI, INDIA - MAY 22: People gather around a municipal water tanker to collect water during high temperatures in New Delhi, India, on May 22, 2024. (Photo by Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu via Getty Images)fake images

People gather around a water tanker in Delhi.

Mahendra Kumar, district magistrate of Bhojpur district in Bihar said The Times of India newspaper reported that three election officials and a police officer had died in the city on Thursday due to heat stroke.

“It was the hottest day and even though all the centers had medical facilities, they collapsed. A house guard (volunteer police) lost consciousness at the place where he was staying,” Kumar said, adding that the man died. in the hospital while being treated by doctors.

He also said that around 30 to 40 people had been admitted to the same hospital on Thursday due to heat-related ailments.

Hospitals in the region are seeing an increase in admissions for heat-related ailments.

On Thursday, a worker admitted for heat stroke died while receiving treatment at a Delhi hospital.

India’s National Center for Disease Control calls heat stroke a “life-threatening” condition with a mortality rate from 40 to 64%.

Reuters An autorickshaw covered with a cloth during a heat wave in AhmedabadReuters

An autorickshaw covered with a cloth during a heat wave in Ahmedabad

The heat in northern, central and western parts of India has been unrelenting for the past two weeks, with maximum temperatures hovering around 45-46°C for days at a time and even rising to 50°C in some areas.

Several regions are experiencing severe water and electricity shortages due to increased consumption. Rising temperatures have led to an increase in fires across India and authorities are using drones to monitor forest fires in Jammu and Kashmir.

Last week, the capital Delhi and surrounding regions experienced record temperatures close to 50°C.

Videos of Delhi residents struggling to get water from tankers have been widely shared on social media. Many areas of the capital also suffer frequent power outages.

Officials are still investigating whether the recorded temperature of 52.9C in Mungeshpur area on Wednesday was a result of a sensor malfunction at the nearby weather station.

Getty Images A medical staff leaves a heat-heating ward at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi on May 30, 2024. At Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi, a specialized unit is busy treating patients with heat-related illnesses .  Equipped with immersion ice baths, the unit has treated eight heat-affected patients in the past week.  (Photo by Arun SANKAR/AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)fake images

A Delhi hospital has set up a room for patients suffering from heat stroke

India experienced a 55% increase in deaths due to extreme heat between 2000-2004 and 2017-2021, a study published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Heat exposure also caused a loss of 167.2 billion potential working hours among Indians in 2021, the study noted.

While many parts of the country have regularly experienced summer heat waves, experts have said they are now becoming longer, more intense and more frequent.

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