There were brief reprieves for the millions suffering beneath the deadly heat wave rolling over India as scattered thunderstorms provided momentary breaks this weekend. But it’s not real relief for those who are still struggling with the high temperatures. Weather officials warned the temperatures will climb well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in coming days.
The death toll of the Indian heat wave is approaching 2,200, with the worst-hit areas baked by temperatures between 113 and 116 degrees this weekend, the Associated Press reported. But relief may be on its way. Forecasters predict the monsoon season will begin next week, first in the south and then in the north. But meteorologists warn the movement of the monsoons from the south to the north is “sluggish” and will miss predicted start days, the Times of India said.
Storms hit the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as well as the country’s capital of New Delhi, Agence France-Presse reported. The two southern states have faced the worst of the heat, and “1,636 people have now died in the Andhra state,” P. Tulsi Rani, a top disaster-management official, told AFP. In nearby Telangana, 541 people have died.
Deaths caused by heat waves in India are not unusual, especially among the nation’s poor. Most who died in this heat wave were construction workers, the elderly or the homeless, according to the Hindustan Times.
The death toll this year has exceeded that of any recent year. The most deadly heat wave recorded in India was in 1998, when 2,541 people died, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Accordingly, the heat wave this year is the second most deadly the country has faced. Meanwhile, the most deadly heat wave in the world arrived in 2003 when more than 71,000 people in Europe died, the newspaper said.
Those who are trapped in the heat say it is becoming unbearable. “We can’t bear this heat. The situation is worsened by frequent power outages,” Rekha Tiwari, a housewife in the Uttar Pradesh state capital of Lucknow, told AP.