Killer heatwave claimed 4,620 lives in last four years
Heatwaves in the country are turning out to be particularly deadly with over 4,620 recorded deaths caused by the severe weather condition in the last four years.
Of that figure, a whopping 4,246 people died in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana alone.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, in 2016, nearly 1,600 people died due to erratic weather conditions, of which 557 casualties were to severe heatwave.
2015 witnessed 2,081 deaths due to severe heatwave while 549 people died in 2014.
In 2013, the severe heatwave conditions killed 1,443 people, of which the unified Andhra Pradesh state registered 1,393 casualties.
The figures, however, are larger across the country as causes other than the direct reasons like heat stroke and dehydration are seldom accounted for, said Dileep Mavlankar, Director of Gandhinagar-based Indian Institute of Public Health that has been working with the Ahemdabad Municipal Corporation on a heatwave action plan.
"For instance, dehydration also leads to respiratory and renal failure, especially for those who are prone to heart and kidney ailments. Infants and the elderly top the list in casualties," he said.
"In 2010, Ahemdabad recorded 65 deaths due to heatwave, but in the same period, there were 800 more deaths," Malvalankar said.
Since last year IMD has started issuing heatwave alerts.
A heat wave is declared when the temperature crosses 45 degrees Celsius.
If the temperature rises 4 to 5 degrees above normal, then the condition is termed as a 'heatwave'. If the variance is over 6 degrees above normal, then it is classified as a 'severe heatwave'. With global temperatures on the rise, the instances of heat wave are increasing. MoES figures reveal that there were 74 days of severe heatwave on an average between 1961 and 1970. The figure declined to 34 between 1971-1980.
Between 1981-1990 and 1991-2000, 45 and 48 severe heatwave days were recorded respectively. However, there was a sharp increase in figures in 2001- 2010 with the number of severe heatwave days peaking to 98.
The last decade is one of the warmest ever recorded.
With every year in the current decade registering warmer climates, it may be fast racing towards becoming the warmest 10-year period. The IMD has declared 2016 as the warmest year ever recorded since 1901.
Global warming is the obvious reason behind the severe heatwave, said Laxman Singh Rathore, former Director General of the India Meteorological Department, but local factors also aggravate the situation.
Blistering heat persists in parts of country, rains in some places
Scorching heat continued in many parts of the country with Ongole in Andhra Pradesh sizzling at 45.5 degrees Celsius even as rainfall occurred at some places, including in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
It was a moderately warm day in the national capital with the maximum temperature settling at 39.6 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature settled at 26.8 degrees Celsius, four notches above normal and the humidity level hovered around 19 per cent on the lower side and 56 per cent on the higher side.
Blistering heat persisted in most parts of Odisha, mainly in the western region with both Balangir and Titlagarh becoming the hottest places in the state recording a high of 44.8 degrees Celsius.
As the mercury breached the 43-degree mark in seven towns and the 40-degree mark in at least 12 places in the state, the MeT office said that heatwave conditions may intensify.
While Jharsuguda town recorded a maximum temperature of 44.1 degrees Celsius, it was 43.8 degrees Celsius at Sambalpur, 43.7 degrees Celsius at Bhawanipatna, 43.5 degrees Celsius at both Sonepur and Hirakud and 42.1 degrees Celsius at both Angul and Talcher. Some areas of the coastal belt in the state, however, got some relief because of a thunder squall.
Two sunstroke deaths have so far been reported in the state, one each from Bargarh and Angul districts.
Ongole in Andhra Pradesh recorded a high of 45.5 degrees Celsius, while in Telangana's Khammam the maximum temperature was 44 degrees Celsius.
In Rajasthan, most places witnessed a slight respite from the simmering heat as maximum temperatures dipped by a few notches in the state.
Churu was the hottest place in the state recording a high of 40.6 degrees Celsius followed by Kota at 39.9 degrees Celsius, Jaipur and Bikaner both at 39 degrees Celsius and Jodhpur at 38.8 degrees Celsius.
Maximum temperatures hovered close to normal at most places in Haryana and Punjab, a day after many parts in the two states witnessed light rainfall.
In Haryana, Hisar registered a high of 39.6 degrees Celsius while Ambala recorded a maximum temperature of 38.9 degrees Celsius.