HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh is in the grip of the most severe cold wave in its recorded history which during the last two days has claimed 15 lives.
Five people died in Karimnagar district, and four each in Visakhapatnam and Guntur districts. The districts of Nalgonda and Warangal accounted for a death each.
According to locals, elderly people and beggars became victims of the severe cold wave.
The temperature in most of the 23 districts in the state is three to nine degrees below normal, the weather officials said. At least 13 districts are reeling under severe cold as the mercury fell to below 10 degrees Celsius.
The intensity of the cold has surprised all. The southern state, known for its tropical weather, never heard of deaths due to cold wave.
The night temperature at Lambasinghi, a tribal hamlet in Visakhapatnam district, fell below zero degree Celsius Monday but the India Meteorological Department (IMD) did not confirm this as it has no recording station there.
Some forest habitations in the district have virtually turned into Kashmir.
The mercury in Chintapalli tribal belt of Visakhapatnam is hovering between one and 1.5 degree Celsius for the last four days.
People in Adilabad district of Telangana shivered as the night temperature fell to below five degrees. The district bordering Maharashtra recorded a temperature of 4.2 degrees, the lowest in over 100 years.
The coastal district of Srikakulam recorded nine degrees, the lowest in decades. The coastal city of Visakhapatnam also registered 11.2 degrees, the lowest in 50 years.
Hyderabad has also been recording temperatures between 10 and 11 degrees for the last couple of days.
According to the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, upper air circulation over Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and cold winds blowing from the Himalayas have brought down the temperature drastically.
The met office has forecast that the cold wave would continue till Thursday morning and the mercury may start returning to normal from Wednesday.