India is a country known for its sweltering heat, but this spring has brought unprecedented (and early) high temperatures to the region, with a deadly outcome. Early Thursday morning reports estimate that over 1,400 people have perished as a direct result of the blistering heatwave, which has been plaguing the nation for the past several weeks. Most of the dead are believed to be homeless, elderly, and laborers who were unable to escape the soaring temps. At the highest point recorded so far, the temperature has risen to 116F (47C), causing wells to dry up, parched land to crack, and asphalt streets to melt into anguished swirls. Image via Daniel Karimi
Most of the victims are believed to have succumbed to dehydration and heat stroke. The area hardest hit by the heat is in the southern part of India, in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. More than 1,000 people have died in Andhra Pradesh alone since May 18, said Pusuli Rani, an official with the state’s Disaster Management Department.
The high temperatures are expected to continue for the next month, and government officials are urging people to stay indoors, keep hydrated, and do whatever they can to stay cool. Many are concerned about the millions of homeless people in the country, who have limited or no access to shelter and water.
Unfortunately, the dangers of the heat are not enough to keep some people from working to support their families. Many have taken to bathing in rivers and leaking pipes multiple times a day, in a desperate attempt to keep heat stroke at bay. Others, mostly day laborers, are opting to lay low until monsoon season comes, which will bring lower temperatures.