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Daytime cooking ban in parts of India as heat claims more lives

In the state of Bihar this week, officials declared a ban on daytime cooking, forbidding fires between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Accidental fires, made far more dangerous because of the hot, dry and windy weather, swept through a number of shantytowns and thatch-roofed houses in a number of villages.

The 80 people who lost their lives include 10 children and five adults who were killed after a spark ignited a fire while they were attending a Hindu prayer ceremony in Bihar’s Aurangabad district, reports the New York Times.

Attempting to prevent more fires, officials have also banned the burning of spent crops. Religious ceremonies where a fire is used are also banned. Anyone violating the order can face up to a year in prison. “We call this the fire season in Bihar,” said Vyas, a state disaster management official who goes by one name. “Strong, westerly winds stoke fires which spread easily and cause great damage.”

While the Hyderabad Karnataka and Bombay Karnataka regions continue to reel under the oppressive heat. the Kalaburagi city civic authorities decided on Thursday, despite the drought conditions across the country, to start watering their roads, to bring down the temperature, says The Hindu. The reporter on the story saw four or five tanker trucks sprinkling water on the main city roads Thursday afternoon.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) at 8.30 a.m. on Thursday morning, Bidar recorded a temperature of 43.5 degrees C (110.84 degrees F). This was a record breaker for Bidar, being five degrees hotter than on the same date one year ago.

Time is reporting that two towns in Orissa recorded a temperature of 45.4 degrees C (113.2 degrees F). India’s worst drought in 40 years has been further exacerbated by the horrendous heat. This is really devastating in a country that has a large agrarian community that is totally dependant on water. Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in a number of the western states and groundwater levels are down to just 22 percent capacity.

The monsoon rains are not expected to start until June, several weeks from now. Some local governments are already sending tanker trucks of water to some areas where water sources are totally dried up.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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