78 killed in India heat wave, schools shut

At least 78 people have been killed in the past two days due to blistering heat wave that swept several places in India’s eastern state of Bihar, local government officials said on Monday.

The deaths have been reported from Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui districts.

“Due to intense heat wave that was prevalent on Saturday and Sunday, 78 deaths have taken place,” Pratyaya Amrit, senior official of disaster management Bihar, told Xinhua.

The local government has issued advisory for people in the affected districts to remain inside houses during daytime, consume plenty of fluids and restrict construction activities during the daytime.

The government has also ordered closure of schools in the state until June 22 in the wake of the intense heat wave.

“All government and government-aided schools in Bihar have been closed until June 22 in view of prevailing heat wave conditions,” reads an order issued by Bihar Education Project Council.

Unconfirmed local media reports put the death toll beyond 100 due to heat wave in the state. Patna city, the capital of Bihar registered a maximum temperature of 45 degrees Celsius on Sunday, eight notches above normal.

Meteorological department officials said areas in central and southern Bihar were facing sweltering heat conditions with temperature remaining 6-7 degrees Celsius above normal.

According to health officials, most of the victims were aged above 50 years and rushed to the hospitals in semi-conscious state with symptoms of high fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.

In Gaya district, the local administration has ordered a halt on activities during the daytime.  

 “Public gathering, cultural programmes, public and private sector construction work, MGNREGA work have been banned between 11am (local time) to 4pm (local time). People have been advised to remain indoors during the heat wave,” Gaya district magistrate Abhishek Singh told media.

The health department has asked hospitals to reserve beds for heatstroke patients and deployed additional doctors in the hospitals to tackle the situation.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the deaths and has announced a compensation of 5,721 U.S. dollars to the next of kin of those killed due to heat wave conditions.

Kumar has directed to take necessary steps and measures in dealing with the heat wave and provide medical help to those affected.  –Xinhua

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