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India in the grip of a killer heatwave: Over 160 people dead

The hottest summer months in India are in May and June, so with April starting out with temperatures at over 100 degrees, government and health officials are very concerned.

The pre-monsoon heatwave has already killed over 160 people, mostly in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, but the ever-increasing temperatures are also compounding the ongoing drought and water shortages in many parts of the country, says the Washington Post.

Last year, a heat wave that lasted into the first few weeks of June claimed the lives of 2,422 people, the highest number in two decades. In neighboring Pakistan, where last year the country also suffered through a devastating heatwave, 500 response centers have been opened to supply shelter and cold water.

The Hindustan Times is reporting that the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) prediction for warmer than usual temperatures for April through June has apparently come true. The intensity of the inferno gripping the country has shot the month of April into the record books.

Many of the dead include farmers and laborers who have no choice but to work outdoors. Authorities in many states have already asked schools to extend their summer holidays so that children aren’t exposed to the heat and construction work is halted during the hottest part of the day.

At least 22, 562 deaths have been attributed to heat waves in India since 1992, and the numbers have been increasing over the past few years. Digital Journal reported last year in May that Indian officials were linking the heat wave to climate change, with that one being the fifth worst heat wave in the country’s history.

“Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heat wave and the certainty of another failed monsoon,” India’s minister for science, technology and earth sciences, Harsh Vardhan, said in June 2015, according to the Washington Post. “It’s not just an unusually hot summer, it is climate change.”

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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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