Doctors advise people over 60 to stay indoors as northern Indian state swelters in extreme heat

LUCKNOW – At least 34 people have died in the past two days as much of India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh swelters in intense heat, officials said on Saturday, prompting medics advise residents over 60 to stay indoors during the day.

The dead were all over 60 and had pre-existing health conditions that could have been exacerbated by the intense heat. The deaths occurred in Ballia district, about 300 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Lucknow, the state capital of Uttar Pradesh.

Twenty-three deaths were reported on Thursday and another 11 died on Friday, Ballia chief medical officer Jayant Kumar said.

“All individuals were suffering from some ailments and their condition worsened due to the extreme heat,” Kumar told The Associated Press on Saturday. He said most of the deaths were due to heart attack, stroke and diarrhoea.

Diwakar Singh, another doctor, said the people had been admitted to Ballia Main Hospital in critical condition. “Older people are also vulnerable to extreme heat,” he said.

Data from the Indian Meteorological Department shows Ballia reported a maximum temperature of 42.2 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday, 4.7 C (8 F) above normal.

The scorching summer caused power outages across the state, leaving people without running water, fans or air conditioners. Many have staged protests.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath assured the public that the government is taking all necessary measures to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the state. He urged citizens to cooperate with the government and use electricity wisely.

“Every village and town should receive adequate power supply during this scorching heat. If any faults arise, they must be resolved quickly,” he said in a statement late Friday.

The main summer months – April, May and June – are usually warm in most parts of India before monsoon rains bring cooler temperatures. But temperatures have become more intense over the past decade. During heat waves, the country also typically suffers severe water shortages, with tens of millions of its 1.4 billion people without running water.

A study by World Weather Attribution, an academic group that examines the source of the extreme heat, found that a scorching heat wave in April that hit parts of South Asia was made at least 30 times more likely by climate change.

In April, heat killed 13 people at a government event in India’s financial capital of Mumbai and prompted some states to close all schools for a week.

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