Extreme heat kills at least 25 people in India’s Maharashtra state

Scientists have linked the start of an intense summer to climate change, and say more than a billion people in India and neighboring Pakistan are in some ways vulnerable to extreme heat.

With the refreshing monsoon rains not expected until next month and more frequent power outages in parts of India, even households that can afford air conditioning will have some time off in the coming weeks.

Many of the deaths in Maharashtra have occurred in rural areas of India’s richest state.

“This is presumed to be a heatstroke death,” Pradeep Awate, a Maharashtra health official, told Reuters.

India is the world’s second-biggest producer of wheat, but the heat is likely to dampen this year’s harvest, after a record five straight years.

As electricity demand soared, generating companies faced a massive coal shortage and the government asked them to increase imports.

For related graphic on Effect of Global Warming in India, click

For a chart of the heatwave engulfing South Asia, click

India recorded its hottest March in more than a century, with the maximum temperature across the country hitting 33.1 degrees Celsius, nearly 1.86 degrees above normal, according to India’s meteorological department. In much of northern, western and eastern India, temperatures exceeded 40C last month.

In the eastern state of Odisha, authorities said a 64-year-old man died of heatstroke on April 25 and hundreds more were receiving medical treatment.

In Subarnapur, Odisha’s hottest district, the highest temperature of 43.2 degrees Celsius was recorded on Tuesday.

“It’s very hot,” said Mohana Mahakur, a resident of Subarnapur. “Fan, air conditioning – nothing works”.

Cheryl Tenny

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