India’s annual pre-monsoon heat wave has been unusually severe this year, especially in the southeastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Near-record temperatures have persisted for weeks and the anxiously awaited monsoon rains that cool the country in early summer have not yet arrived.
Temperatures in parts of the country have soared above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, making life miserable for many of India’s 1.25 billion inhabitants and presenting serious health and infrastructure challenges to the South Asian nation.
Due to high humidity, the heat index — a measurement of how a given temperature feels to humans — in some regions exceeded 140 degrees. The extreme temperatures have contributed to over 1,800 deaths, making the heat wave one of the deadliest on record.
Heavy use of air conditioners has put excess strain on India’s electrical grid, causing power cuts in some areas, including the capital, New Delhi.
Intense heat in New Delhi even caused road surfaces to melt.
Across the country, measures have been taken to limit fatalities.
Authorities have cancelled leave for doctors as hospitals struggle to cope with the victims of temperature-related ailments like heat stroke and heart attacks.
Many of the victims are the elderly and people who are forced to spend days outside in the intense heat, such as construction workers and the homeless.
Citizens have been cautioned to stay inside if possible and to drink fluids constantly.
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