Photo of India’s Deadly, Street-Melting Heat Wave
An extreme heat wave with temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) has killed at least 1,118 people over the past week in India, where hot air, molten asphalt, dust storms are making life almost unbearable.
The homeless, construction workers, newborns, young children and elderly people are most at risk in this weather. In the state of Andhra Pradesh alone, where temperatures climbed to 47 degrees Celsius or 116 Fahrenheit on Monday, 852 people have died. In the neighboring Telangana state, 266 people have died in the last week as temperatures hit 48 degrees Celsius or 118 Fahrenheit, the BBC reports.
Hospitals are struggling to treat victims of dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and tens of thousands are suffering through power cuts from the overloaded electrical grid. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) advises people to stay indoors, wear loose clothing, and drink water—even if they’re not thirsty.
Heat waves are not unusual in between March and June in South Asia, but experts point to climate change to explain more and more extreme weather conditions in this part of the year, predicting longer and more intense heat waves in the region. Lack of rain combined with dry, hot winds from the desert state of Rajasthan are responsible for the recent heatwave say meteorologists, who don’t expect conditions to get better until the arrival of monsoon in June.
Until then, top temperatures in New Delhi, home to 23 million people, could remain around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), according to Brahma Prakash Yadav, director of the Indian Meteorological Department. The following images depict these shocking conditions.