India’s Odisha state records 8 deaths in 72 hours as heatwave persists

BHUBANESWAR, India: At least eight people have died of suspected sunstroke in India’s eastern state of Odisha in the last three days, the government said on Monday (Jun 10), with the national weather department predicting more hot weather in parts of the state this week.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) declares a heat wave when the temperature of a region is 4.5 degrees Celsius to 6.4 degrees Celsius higher than normal. Odisha’s capital city of Bhubaneswar recorded a maximum temperature of 39 degrees Celsius on Monday.

A total of 159 suspected sunstroke deaths have been reported in Odisha this summer, the state emergency operation centre said on Monday, adding that sunstroke was confirmed as the cause of death in 41 cases.

“Seventy-three cases (of suspected sunstroke) are under inquiry at district level,” the centre’s statement said.

India and several other parts of Asia have experienced an unusually hot summer – a trend scientists say has been worsened by human-driven climate change – and the weather department has forecast heat wave conditions will continue in parts of north and east India in the coming days.

The country saw nearly 25,000 cases and 56 fatalities from suspected heat stroke from March to May, local media reported last week.

The capital Delhi recorded its highest-ever temperature at 49.9 degrees Celsius in some places earlier this month, and it has been grappling with a water shortage as maximum temperatures continue to hover around 44 degrees Celsius.

The country held national elections from April to June amid the heat, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi securing a third term with a diminished majority, making his BJP dependent on other parties to form a government.

The early arrival of monsoon rains, which hit southern Kerala state on May 30 and have advanced into the western state of Maharashtra after covering southern India, however, may bring some relief by the end of the month, the weather department has said.

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