Nandigama, Andhra Pradesh: In her small home, Nagamma is seated just a few feet away from her husband’s dead body. 24 hours ago, he collapsed after the temperature crawled past 47 degrees in Nandigama in the western part of Andhra Pradesh.
A family friend says Nagamma’s husband was rushed to two hospitals in quick succession. “They administered intravenous fluids but he died in 15 minutes,” he said.
In the last few weeks, the heat wave in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Telangana has pushed on relentlessly. Over 750 people have died – 551 in Andhra and the rest in Telangana.
Delhi today was its hottest this summer with the temperature a blistering 45.5 degrees.
Parts of Telangana have been their hottest in decades in the last few days. “It is not unusually high temperatures but they persisted for three-four days at least. That caused a lot of harm,” said YK Reddy of the meteorological department to media.
The weather office has said northwesterly dry and hot winds are responsible for the heatwave, made worse by clear skies in the region. But the direction is now changing, so there could be some respite in a couple of days.
Officials warn the toll is near certain to rise, with figures still being collected in some parts of Telangana.
The authorities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have issued a red alert and are urging labourers and others not to work between 11:30 and 4 in the afternoon.
“The majority of the victims are people who have been exposed to the sun directly, usually aged 50 and above and from the working classes,” said P Tulsi Rani, special commissioner of Andhra Pradesh’s disaster management department.
“We are asking them to take precautions like using an umbrella, using a cap, taking a huge quantity of liquids like water and buttermilk, and wearing cotton clothing,” she said.