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India's Delhi sees first heat-related death this year as capital sizzles

India's Delhi sees first heat-related death this year as capital sizzles

Thursday, May 30, 2024, 16:19 GMT+7
India's Delhi sees first heat-related death this year as capital sizzles
Residents fill their containers with drinking water from a municipal tanker on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 21, 2024. Photo: Reuters

NEW DELHI -- India's capital, Delhi, has recorded its first heat-related death this year, media reported on Thursday, as India's northwest swelters in record high temperatures.

The heat-related fatality was a 40-year-old labourer who died of heatstroke on Wednesday, The Indian Express newspaper reported.

Record Delhi heat, readings under review

The temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius (127.22°F) in the Mungeshpur neighbourhood on Wednesday, while parts of northwest and central India have been experiencing heatwave to severe heatwave conditions for weeks.

The reading for Mungeshpur may be revised however, as maximum temperatures in other parts of the city ranged from 45.2°C to 49.1°C.

Delhi's lieutenant governor on Wednesday asked the government to ensure measures were taken to protect labourers by providing water and shaded areas at construction sites and granting them paid leave from noon to 3 p.m.

A man and a cow sit under the shadow of a tree on the Yamuna river bed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A man and a cow sit under the shadow of a tree on the Yamuna river bed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Why is India seeing more heatwaves?

The India Meteorological Department has said a confluence of weather patterns has driven up temperatures.

Summer temperatures often peak during May in India, but the IMD predicted 7-10 heatwave days in northwestern regions this month, compared with the usual 2-3 days.

This was largely due to fewer non-monsoon thundershowers and an active but weakening El Nino, a climate pattern that typically leads to hot and dry weather in Asia and heavier rains in parts of the Americas, the IMD has said.

Warm, westerly winds blowing in from Pakistan also contributed to the heat.

Other parts of India have already seen summer temperatures climbing to record peaks, including eastern and southern India, where temperatures in April were among the highest on record.

A dog sleeps on a wet land on the Yamuna river bed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A dog sleeps on a wet land on the Yamuna river bed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters
People sleep on the Yamuna river bed under a bridge on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters
People sleep on the Yamuna river bed under a bridge on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Extreme heat

A heatwave alert has been in place for large parts of India since last week.

The IMD threshold for a heatwave is when the maximum temperature reaches 40°C in the plains, 30°C in hilly areas, 37°C in coastal areas and when the departure from the normal maximum temperatures is at least 4.5 degrees.

Rajasthan state has also been reeling under scorching heat, with mercury touching 50°C in some districts. Government data shows four people have died since March with 451 cases of heat stroke reported on Wednesday itself.

Asia has sweltered in a hotter summer this year - a trend scientists say has been worsened by human-driven climate change.

People rest on the Yamuna river bed under a bridge on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

People rest on the Yamuna river bed under a bridge on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

People bath from a broken water pipeline on the Yamuna river bed under a bridge on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

People bath from a broken water pipeline on the Yamuna river bed under a bridge on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, May 22, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Near term relief

Heatwave conditions will reduce over the next two to three days due to a gradual fall in temperature along with rainfall and southwesterly winds blowing from the Arabian Sea to northwest India, the IMD said on Wednesday.

Late on Wednesday, some parts of Delhi received a spot of light rain.

Reuters

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