Scorching Heatwave in India’s Rajasthan Claims Nine Lives

NEW DELHI – A severe heatwave has claimed the lives of at least nine people in India’s western state of Rajasthan, with temperatures expected to rise further, according to media reports on Friday.

The extreme heat in northern India has heightened concerns, particularly during the ongoing general election. The capital, New Delhi, is set to vote on Saturday, with temperatures forecast to reach around 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

India typically experiences peak summer temperatures in May. However, scientists have predicted more heatwave days than usual this year, largely due to fewer non-monsoon thundershowers and an active but weakening El Nino weather phenomenon.

Local media reported that the nine deaths in Rajasthan are suspected to be due to heat stroke, though the state’s disaster management officials have yet to confirm the causes pending medical examinations. This week, Barmer in Rajasthan recorded a scorching 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.84 degrees Fahrenheit), topping temperature charts.

Weather officials have issued warnings for conditions ranging from heatwave to severe heatwave in various parts of Rajasthan, as well as in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana. According to Indian weather officials, a heatwave is defined by a maximum temperature of at least 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the plains, with a departure of at least 4.5 degrees Celsius from the normal maximum temperature.

In stark contrast, the southern state of Kerala has been experiencing heavy pre-monsoon rains, resulting in at least seven fatalities and causing floods that disrupted flight schedules. The rains in Kerala have been about 18% heavier than normal, adding to the weather-related challenges faced by different parts of the country.

The dual extremes of scorching heat in the north and heavy rains in the south underscore the varied and severe weather patterns affecting India, raising concerns about the impacts on public health, infrastructure, and overall safety.