Deaths Mount, Water Rationed as India Faces Record Heat

Deaths Mount, Water Rationed as India Faces Record Heat

New Delhi—Meltdown Madness Ensues

During these past seven days, India’s capital, New Delhi, has taken centre stage in a real-life horror show: a record-breaking heatwave that’s turned the city into an inferno. With daytime temperatures flirting with 120 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temps barely dipping below 90, the city is cooking, and not in a good way.

In a scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno, the capital reported its first heat-related death of the year: a 40-year-old migrant labourer. Authorities are still squabbling over whether the recorded temperature of 126 degrees (52 Celsius) on Wednesday was real or just a cruel prank by the weather gods.

The Grim Reaper’s Tour of India

The eastern states of Bihar and Odisha have sadly joined the heatwave party, with 24 people succumbing to the blistering temperatures on Thursday. This included three election officials and a police officer who clearly didn’t get the memo about staying hydrated. Meanwhile, Rajasthan, the land of deserts and forts, has reported 55 heat-related deaths in just seven days.

In the city of Aurangabad, Sadar Hospital saw 103 heatstroke patients in a mere two-hour window. By morning, five had tragically passed away.

The Heat Dome of Delhi

Delhi’s residents are feeling the squeeze as dense buildings, cars, and a million air conditioners make urban heat unbearable. Climate experts warn that the grueling temperatures are pushing human physiology to its limits and sparking environmental disasters, like the forest fire near Shimla in the Himalayas.

Fire department calls in Delhi hit a high for the year on Wednesday, as people’s dwellings joined the bonfire. Fire Chief Atul Garg warned residents to avoid overloading their air conditioners, lest they want to add their homes to the growing list of torched properties.

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Water Wars: The Sequel

Delhi’s water supply is in crisis, mirroring the situation in Bangalore. In a bid to curb water wastage, Delhi officials have slapped a 2,000-rupee fine on anyone caught wasting drinking water. Meanwhile, in parts of the city without running water, tanker trucks will now only make a single daily appearance. Cue the footage of desperate residents mobbing water trucks like it’s a Rolling Stones reunion tour.

Delhi Water Minister Atishi had a few choice words for the wealthy car-washers of Delhi, urging everyone to pitch in during this emergency. “Right now, Delhi is facing an emergency situation because of the heat wave,” she stated, no doubt longing for the days when her biggest problem was air pollution.

The Survival of the Fittest (or the Thirstiest)

The extreme heat has not just closed schools and emptied streets; it’s also shut down courtrooms. A judge in the capital had to adjourn proceedings, citing unbearable heat and a lack of water in the washroom. Not exactly conditions conducive to justice.

Manual labourers are feeling the burn, quite literally. Building contractors had to stop work during the hottest parts of the day, resulting in significant financial loss. Daily wage workers may have taken a day off due to the heat, but they live from hand to mouth. They are forced to return to work the next day, hunger making their stomachs rumble louder than the AC units.

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Records Were Made to Be Broken (or Misread)

Several Indian cities hit all-time high temperatures on Wednesday. Rohtak recorded a sweltering 120 degrees (48.8 Celsius) and Fursatganj wasn’t far behind at 117 degrees (47.2 Celsius). Meanwhile, news reports about Delhi smashing the 50 degrees Celsius mark were a bit premature, thanks to some dubious readings from automated weather stations.

The Indian Meteorological Department is now playing detective, examining whether the Mungeshpur temperature of 52.9 degrees Celsius was a sensor glitch or just localised hellfire.

Temporary Relief or More Teasing?

A brief respite came on Wednesday afternoon with thunderstorms and dust storms, but it was short-lived. The Meteorological Department promises that heat wave conditions will reduce over the next few days, thanks to an approaching western disturbance, rainfall, and winds from the Arabian Sea.

But don’t get too comfortable. This May heat wave is just part of a global trend. Last month was the 11th straight month of record global heat, fuelled by our good friend climate change, stagnant high-pressure heat domes, and the ever-controversial El Niño.

Bottom line: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of sun—or in this case, New Delhi.