Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

13 killed by cold snap in India

An Indian man wrapped in warm clothing walks along a street as thick fog and freezing conditions hit the city of Hyderabad (AP)
People warm themselves around a bonfire on a foggy winter morning in Jammu, India (AP)

Near-freezing temperatures and icy Himalayan winds have killed at least 13 people in northern India, bringing the death toll to nearly 100 from a cold snap that began three weeks ago.

Worst-hit is the state of Uttar Pradesh, where at least 81 people - mostly poor and homeless - have died because of the intense cold.

At least 13 people died on Sunday night and Monday morning in Uttar Pradesh, police spokesman Surendra Srivastav said.

In New Delhi, 10 people have died in the past two weeks, while another six deaths were reported from Jharkhand state.

Uttar Pradesh is one of India's poorest states and nearly a fifth of its 180 million people are homeless, according to state government statistics.

The state government has arranged for nearly 3,500 bonfires to be lit through the night at major road crossings, railway and bus stations to prevent further deaths from the cold wave that has gripped the state since the last week of December.

All schools have been ordered to be closed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar states until the weather improves.

The temperature dipped below 3C in parts of Uttar Pradesh, and as far as 0.6 C in Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located.

Though India is famous for its brutally hot summers, temperatures fall sharply for a few weeks in December and January.

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