In a devastating turn of events, at least 54 individuals have lost their lives in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh over the past few days, according to a report by the Times of India. The authorities are currently investigating whether the fatalities can be attributed to the scorching heat wave that has swept through the region.
Neighboring Bihar state has also been severely affected, with an additional 45 reported deaths, as detailed by local newspapers. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued a red alert warning last week, cautioning residents about the extreme heat gripping several parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The government has initiated an inquiry into the cause of the fatalities, which occurred over a three-day period last week in Ballia district, situated approximately 600 miles southeast of New Delhi. “Deaths have occurred in the district, but it is very difficult to say if that happened due to the heat wave,” expressed Ravindra Kumar, the district’s top administrative official, in a statement to Reuters. However, Kumar did not confirm the exact number of deaths.
The chief medical officer at Ballia’s main state hospital, Diwakar Singh, faced repercussions for attributing the deaths to the heat. The government took immediate action by relieving Singh of his duties. Brajesh Pathak, the deputy chief minister of the state, publicly announced Singh’s removal on social media, citing an “irresponsible statement” as the cause.
Temperatures in Ballia soared close to a staggering 113 degrees Fahrenheit in recent days, exacerbating the situation in the midst of a severe power crisis. While the heat wave is anticipated to persist in some regions on Monday, parts of India’s northeastern Assam state are grappling with devastating floods triggered by heavy rainfall.
A senior official from the IMD warned, “Rainfall intensity in Assam and other northeastern states is likely to rise this week. Many pockets are expected to receive heavy to extremely heavy rainfall this week, which could lead to flooding.” The plight of Assam and its neighboring states remains a significant concern as they battle both the ravages of the heat wave and the torrential downpours that threaten further devastation.