Death toll rises in India after heatwave
Crops have shrivelled up, rivers and lakes are dry and locals are becoming desperate
Officials have reported that weeks of scorching temperatures, after a year’s long drought, have caused more than 160 deaths in southern and eastern India.
The government has said about 330 million people have been effected by the heat wave, with most victims labourers and farmers in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
Temperatures have also soared elsewhere in India to 45 degrees Celsius, whilst schools were forced to close last week in Orissa until at least 26th April.
A quarter of the country’s population, across nearly 256 districts, have so far been affected by the drought after two consecutive years of poor monsoon rains.
Officials in Andhra Pradesh were giving out free water and buttermilk to help people stay hydrated, and advice to ‘stay inside during the hottest hours of the day’ has been reiterated.
The South Asian nation is struggling after severe water shortages have blighted the country, effecting a quarter of the country's population.
Hundreds of farmers at the end of their tether have committed suicide, tens of thousands of farm animals have died and crops have perished.
Rivers, lakes and ponds have shrivelled up and the groundwater tables have sunk.
Grappling to deal with the crisis, officials this month have sent tankers of water to parched farming communities in Maharashtra and have banned locals from drilling deep wells. Farmers have also been told to shift away from sugarcane crops, which guzzle down water at an incredible rate.
The heat wave in India coincides with record-high temperatures across the globe.
March's average global temperature of 12.7C (54.9F) was not only the hottest March, but continues a record 11-month streak that started last May, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
Earlier this month, a court in the western state of Maharashtra ordered the Indian Premier League to rearrange 13 cricket matches and move the games out of the area because there wasn’t enough water to keep the fields hydrated.
The government has also asked local councils to stop supplying water to swimming pools.
This year, Orissa's capital – Bhubaneshwar - and Maharashtra's city of Nagpur have launched a heatwave programme to educate people on how to stay cool in the sun, provide shelters and train medical workers to deal with heat-related illnesses such as sunstroke and dehydration.