India heatwave deaths rise to 36, poorest workers worst hit
MUMBAI/CHENNAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) :
A heatwave gripping India has killed 36 people with the poorest workers bearing the brunt, national disaster management officials said on Wednesday, warning that the record temperatures were impacting more states than in previous years.
India's capital Delhi recorded its highest-ever temperature of 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, while Churu in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, temperatures reached as high as 51C.
"This is the worst heatwave ever. In 2015, the heatwave was recorded in nine states, this year the forecast is 23," said Anup Kumar Srivastava, drought and heatwave expert at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
"We have verified 36 deaths due to the heatwave against 25 last year. They are mostly poor laborers who come from rural areas to cities to look for work and live on the road side," Srivastava told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
India typically witnesses water scarcity during summer months, but the situation this year is particularly bad in western and southern states which received less than normal rainfall in the 2018 monsoon season.