A heatwave in India is now thought to have killed hundreds of people. With the monsoon rains arriving late, up to 200 have died in Orissa, and temperatures in many parts of the country have reached over 40 degrees.
Seventeen people are said to have perished in Jharkand and seven in Bihar. As so often happens, it is the poor who have suffered worst. Orissa’s minister for disaster management has been asking the federal government to declare the heatwave a “national calamity” so that the families of those killed get better compensation.
Hospitals have opened special wards for victims of heatstroke and mobile ice vans are patrolling the cities, while the government is organising special prayers for rain.
The worst Indian heatwave of recent years came in 1998 when more than 2,000 people died in Orissa alone. The deadliest heatwave of all was probably the one that swept Europe in 2003, and claimed up to 50,000 lives.