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Extreme heatwave kills 500 people in India as temperatures hit 48C

The number is feared to be an underestimate

By Lizzie Dearden

Published 25/05/2015

A bird of prey flies overhead at sunset at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi, India. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
A bird of prey flies overhead at sunset at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi, India. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Tourists visit the Baha House of Worship, also known as "The Lotus Temple" in Delhi, India. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

More than 500 people have been killed in an extreme heatwave in India that has seen temperatures hit 48C.

The Indian Meteorological Department has issued red warnings for many eastern and central states as the conditions continue over the coming days.

People are being advised to stay out of the sun, eat well and drink plenty of water but there are fears for the millions of homeless people, including young children, who have no shelter.

The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have seen some of the highest temperatures, while the north-eastern city of Allahabad also hit 47C on Sunday and Delhi saw 45C.

The Centre for Holistic Development, a charity in the capital, told the Hindustan Times that the heat had claimed the lives of 186 people by Saturday, most of whom were homeless.

That number is feared to be an underestimate of the true toll in the city of 9.8 million people and an official figure has not yet been released.

Officials in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh reported more than 400 deaths from sunstroke and other heat-related conditions between Wednesday and Saturday.

Deaths were also reported in Odisha state and hospitals in affected areas have been flooded with patients.

More casualties are expected as the extreme heat continues until at least Wednesday, with forecasters issuing severe warnings for most eastern states and less severe alerts for swathes of central India where temperatures will top 40C.

Thunderstorms and dust storms will follow the heat in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab.

People are being urged to look out for the signs of heat exhaustion, including fatigue, dropping blood pressure, nausea and sweating, and immediately try and cool themselves down.

If it is not treated, it can develop into potentially deadly heatstroke as the body’s temperature rises beyond safe levels.

Symptoms include confusion, dry skin, hyperventilation, cramping and later seizures, organ failure and death.

Source: Independent

Independent News Service

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