|A devastating heat wave is gripping India. So far it has killed at least 800 people, and is even melting roads. It’s so hard hitting that the only relief in sight is an expected monsoon.
Through the end of May, the India Meteorological Department has issued heat warnings, notifying citizens in several of its worst-hit states that temperatures could reach over 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). In New Delhi, temperatures have already reached about 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
Hundreds of people, primarily from the poorest rung of the socio-economic ladder, die each year in India from the summer heat. This particular heat wave, though, is so intense that it’s already claimed at least 551 lives in Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India.
“The state government has taken up education programs through television and other media to tell people not to venture into the outside without a cap, to drink water and other measures,” special commissioner for disaster management Andhra Pradesh’s P. Tulsi Rani told the AP. “We have also requested NGOs and government organisations to open up drinking water camps so that water will be readily available for all the people in the towns.”
The heat wave has gotten so intense that a road in New Delhi has reportedly started melting. A photo from the Hindustan Times shows a main street’s white pedestrian crossing stripes curling and spreading into the black asphalt. Asphalt has been known to reach temperatures of up to 172 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hari Om, a street food vendor in Delhi, said, “All the food is getting spoilt even though I prepared it fresh in the morning. It’s bad business but what to do.”
Unfortunately, things are also only going to get worse before they get better. The India Meteorological Department forecasts continually increasing temperatures throughout the end of May. A monsoon, which will hit the mainland around May 31, is expected to bring some cooler temps.