Odisha continued to reel under intense heat wave conditions as 67 people reportedly died of heat stroke with 8 towns of the state recording temperature above 45 degrees Celsius. Titlagarh, in western Odisha, was the hottest at 47.6 degrees Celsius, the highest this season.
Revenue officials said of the 67, only four deaths so far have been confirmed to be due to exhaustion. The youngest victims were a boy and a girl, both aged 10 years, while the oldest victim was an 85-year-old man.
According to revenue department officials, most of the victims were daily labourers or farmers. Three days ago, Pramod Kumar Sasmal (48), an assistant sub-inspector of CRPF 4th Battalion and Moga Bidika (30), a daily labourer in Rayagada had died of sunstroke. Sasmal was engaged in a combing operation when he fell unconscious. He was brought dead to the Rayagada district hospital.
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Met officials said the intense heat wave has been caused due to the weakening of a cyclonic circulation over the Arabian sea. On Monday, the Met officials had sounded a ‘Red Box’ alert predicting blistering heat wave conditions in Odisha, Jharkhand and coastal Andhra Pradesh for two days. A ‘Red Box’ warning means high chances of heat stroke, dehydration and fatality with temperatures going above 45 degrees Celsius. Director of Met office in Bhubaneswar, Sarat Chandra Sahoo said the ‘Red Box’ warning would continue for western Odisha and other interior districts for next two days.
Though mercury climbed down to 39 degrees in Bhubaneswar, most of western Odisha and interior towns like Bolangir, Titlagarh, Angul, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh and Bhwanipatna have been experiencing temperatures close to 45 degrees for over a week. “I don’t see heat wave abating before end of this week,” he added
The heat forced police in Odisha’s Berhampur town to withdraw traffic policemen from busy squares after 1 pm. The conditions also forced people to stay in their homes as frequent power cuts added to their woes.