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More than 500 dead as deadly heatwave bakes parts of India

Posted May 25, 2015 by Karen Graham
A blistering and deadly heatwave in India has so far taken the lives of over 500 people, and there are no signs of a let up. Temperatures in some places reached 118 degrees F. this past week. Weather forecasts call for another week of high temperatures.
An Indian market trader takes a rest in the sweltering heat at her vegetable stall in Hyderabad on M...
An Indian market trader takes a rest in the sweltering heat at her vegetable stall in Hyderabad on May 22, 2015
Noah Seelam, AFP
Temperatures were a sweltering 117.8 degrees F. in northern India today, while the capital, Dehli had it a lot better, with temperatures only reaching 110.3 degrees F, according to Reuters.
Based on local news agency reports, most of the deaths have occurred in the southeastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Sadly, most of the dead were homeless people. They are the ones most vulnerable because of a lack of shelter.
Andhra Pradesh's special commissioner for disaster management, P. Tulsi Rani, said, "The majority of the victims are people who have been exposed to the sun directly, usually aged 50 and above and from the working classes. Rani said the cases of heat stroke and deaths started to snowball after last Monday.
"We are asking them to take precautions like using an umbrella, using a cap, taking a huge quantity of liquids like water and buttermilk, and wearing cotton clothing," he said.
Mr. Rani lamented the fact that every summer, hundreds of people in the poorer segment of society die when the temperature rises to such extremes. The Inquisitor described the plight of one farmer, Ahmed Pasha, who has 12 acres, and said he has "simply run out of water."
The farmer added, “It has all gone so dry that more than 50 percent of the grass that I had grown for the buffaloes and the goats has dried up.”
Weather forecast for the week ahead is dire
The Indian Meteorological Department has already issued a "Red Alert' for the coming week to the affected regions, saying the oppressive heat will continue until around May 31. The Indian government has also cancelled leave for all doctors in the country, as hospitals are being flooded with cases of heat stroke.
The government is also offering $1,575 to the families of the deceased. People are also being advised to not go to work between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and to use umbrellas or wear a hat, as well as wear light cotton clothing. Centers have been opened, especially in urban areas, for the distribution of water and buttermilk.
In the meantime, the start of the monsoon season is expected, with a storm brewing off India's west coast that is expected to reach the southern coast by May 31. Everyone is looking forward to the much-needed and cooling rains.