India

Unrelenting heat-wave in India claims 74 more lives

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New Delhi_(dpa) _ The heatwave gripping north and central India has claimed 74 more lives, raising the death toll due to oppressive heat conditions this summer to 148, officials and reports said Tuesday.

The heat-related deaths were reported from the national capital New Delhi and northern Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and central Madhya Pradesh states on Monday, the PTI news agency said in its report.

Rohtak and Jhajjar districts in central Haryana bore the brunt of the searing heatwave, which left 25 people dead. Most victims were homeless, beggars and people working in the open hit by heat-strokes and dehydration.

Meanwhile, 13 people died in Uttar Pradesh, a state worst-affected by the heat-wave, pushing the death toll since the end of April to 62. High temperatures coupled with frequent power outages crippled daily life in the state adding to the woes of the residents.

The PTI reported that 16 people died in Delhi and Punjab, while Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan accounted for the remaining heat-wave fatalities.

The blazing sun continued to bake several towns and cities in the northern and central parts on Monday with the mercury rising to over 40 degrees Celsius in several places.

The Indian Meteorological Department said Sriganganagar and Churu towns in Rajasthan were the hottest, recording 46.3 degrees Celsius and 46.1 degrees Celsius respectively.

The mercury breached the 45-degrees mark in Amritsar in Punjab and Hissar in Haryana. Delhi recorded a day-time temperature of 41.1 degrees Celsius.

But weather officials predicted that north India would soon get a break from the killer heat.

"The day-time temperature has already reached its peak for north India and there would be a gradual fall in the maximum temperatures from now on," Met department director BP Yadav told reporters.

He added that the heatwave was caused by winds from the Thar desert that straddles the southern half of the India-Pakistan border.

Pakistan has also been hit by the tormenting heat and at least 110 people have died in the record-breaking heat over the weekend.

Temperatures in swathes of northern, north-western and central India usually rise to above 40 degrees in mid-May and continue for a month till the seasonal monsoon winds bring cooling showers in June. But experts say the average summer temperatures have been rising annually. dpa sk jh

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