India

Indians pray for rain as sub-continent sizzles

HYDERABAD, India, June 4 (Reuters) - Indians poured into temples and mosques on Wednesday to pray for rain as a heatwave that has killed over 1,000 people in one state alone swept across the sub-continent.

Weather officials warned there would be no early respite, with the arrival of the rain-bearing southwest monsoon delayed until June 8 at the earliest and temperatures likely to hover around 47 degrees Celsius (117 Farenheit) over the next two days.

Most of the deaths have been in Andhra Pradesh state, where 1,065 people -- mostly rickshaw pullers, street hawkers and the homeless -- have died of sunstroke and dehydration.

"The heat wave is unprecedented in terms of the duration but temperatures have gone beyond 48 degrees in the past," C.V.V. Bhadram, weather office director in the state capital, Hyderabad, told Reuters.

On Tuesday, the temeprature hit 49.6 degrees Celsius (121.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in Bolangir district in the eastern state of Orissa where authorities closed schools and colleges.

Large parts of India are also critically short of water as rivers, lakes and wells have dried up due to a drought caused by last year's failed monsoon.

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