Heatwave toll nears 1,500; Andhra worst hit with 1,020 deaths

28 May 2015

The blistering heatwave has claimed nearly 1,500 lives across the country, poor people mostly in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, in a week's time, and reports said hospitals are struggling to cope with an influx of victims of sun stroke.

In Andhra Pradesh, the worst-hit state, 1,020 people have died since 18 May, while in neighbouring Telangana, where temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) over the weekend, 340 people have died from the heat.

''The rains which have eluded us for the last couple of years have created serious drought conditions,'' said state minister KT Rama Rao in Telangana.

''This is unprecedented so there is a little bit of panic,'' he said. ''Hopefully the monsoon will be on time. Hopefully we will receive rain very, very soon.''

But the state government and public health authorities do not go beyond making public announcements urging people to drink water and try and avoid going outdoors during the hottest hours of the day.

Meteorological officials have said the heat that has also started affecting wild life would likely last several more days.

Elsewhere, PTI reported 43 deaths from the heatwave in Orissa while another 13 succumbed to the heat in neighbouring West Bengal, where taxi drivers stopped plying during the day.

Two people died in Maharashtra, where conditions are unlikely to improve until the monsoon rains arrive in June.

The monsoon is forecast to hit the southern state of Kerala towards the end of this month before sweeping across the country, but it will be weeks before the rains reach the arid plains of the eastern states.

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