While large parts of the country are reeling under the ongoing heat wave, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been worst hit, reporting over 200 deaths in less than 10 days.
The meteorological department on Sunday issued a “severe heat wave” warning for all 10 districts of Telangana for the next three days.
With the temperatures rising 5-6 degrees Celsius above normal, Telangana reported 140 heat wave-related deaths since May 18 and Andhra Pradesh reported 105 deaths since May 15. Most of the victims are above 60 years, mostly daily wagers or labourers who were exposed to the sun for a long period.
On Sunday, Telangana sizzled with temperatures hovering near 45 degrees Celsius across the state. Khammam was at 46 degrees, Ramagundem 46 degrees, Nizamabad 45.1 degrees, Hyderabad 43 degrees, Adilabad 44 degrees, Warangal 45 degrees, Mahbubnagar 43 degrees, Medak 42 degrees, Nalgonda 46 degrees, and Nizamabad 46 degrees.
In Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada hit 47 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
“Almost all the victims are old. Inquiries reveal that most of them were working and were exposed to the heat. Dehydration and heat stroke caused the deaths,” Telangana Principal Secretary (Revenue) B R Meena said Sunday.
For instance, K Samaiah, 60, of Gollapalli village in Karimnagar district, collapsed and died after driving his autorickshaw all day on Friday. The temperature in Karimnagar on that day was 46 degrees Celsius. “Samaiah is survived by his wife, and his son does odd jobs. Samaiah is the main provider and he had to ply his autorickshaw although it was terribly hot with hot winds,” said tehsildar M V Ramana.
In Khammam, three old street dwellers died on Saturday as the district recorded 48 degrees Celsius. “It is not due to lack of shelter or drinking water. Most of the victims died because they exposed themselves to the sun. We have issued warning leaflets, messages through media and through health and medical workers asking people to stay indoors for a couple of days. The heat wave is likely to last for two or three days more so we are advising people not to venture outdoors between 12 noon and 4 pm,’’ said Telangana Revenue Minister Mohammed Mehmood Ali.
At least 40 of the dead are old women. In Telangana, Nalgonda reported the highest number of deaths at 28, followed by Karimnagar at 22, and Khammam at 18.
“Elderly people, labourers, beggars and people living on the streets are worst hit. The humid south coastal districts bore the brunt of the heat wave. The toll has crossed 100. We have started a campaign asking people to avoid going outdoors from 11 am to 4 pm,’’ said Andhra Pradesh Revenue Minister K E Krishna Murthy.
Officials said the hot winds blowing during the day affected senior citizens, some of whom, despite being indoors, died in their sleep. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has asked all his ministers, MLAs and TDP leaders and workers to organise camps and kiosks to provide chilled drinking water and buttermilk, and also advise people to stay indoors in the afternoon unless there is an emergency. Naidu also announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh as ex-gratia to the next of the kin of the deceased.
In Andhra Pradesh, Prakasam district reported the maximum deaths at 72.
Meanwhile, electricity transformers and small sub-stations at several places caught fire or malfunctioned due to overloading. As transformers caught fire at Vijayawada and Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh and Karimnagar and Asifnagar in Telangana, electricity department officials put up air-coolers to prevent over-heating.