Via The Times of India, a May 27 report: Govt efforts lag, heat death toll crosses 800 in Andhra, Telangana. Excerpt:
NEW DELHI: Despite Andhra Pradesh and Telangana's best efforts to tackle heatwave deaths with awareness campaigns and makeshift medical camps, at least 39 more people in the area's poorest regions fell to the fierce sun on Tuesday. Though officials in the two states were silent on the exact toll, unofficial figures put the number of deaths in the past week at over 800.
The governments have launched campaigns in villages asking people to wear light clothes and not to step out of their houses between 9am and 4pm unless absolutely necessary. Thousands of 'water camps' have been set up to provide drinking water to people. Oral rehydration salts and intravenous fluids have been made available at bus and railway stations across Andhra and Telangana, the two states where many passengers have suffered from dehydration.
Experts blame the unseasonal rainfall from March till the second week of May for the high number of deaths. They said the rain meant there was no gradual rise in temperature — like in most years — and many people could not take the sudden jump in temperature seen in the past 10-odd days.
"There may be many causes behind the heavy heatwave toll this year," said Aftab Ahmad, internal medicine expert, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad. "The prime among them is what is called climatic acclimatization. This year the temperature changed suddenly. This disturbs the defence mechanism of the body. The elderly, those involved in physical labour, young children and pregnant women easily suffer from sunstroke if there is poor climatic acclimatization.
There will be no problem if there is gradual increase in the temperature. Other reasons could be delay in availability of medical facilities, no access to drinking water, severe dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance."
On Tuesday, severe heatwave (seven degrees Celsius above normal) to heatwave (five degrees above normal or 45 degrees) conditions prevailed over many parts in Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasham and Nellore districts of coastal Andhra Pradesh.
The temperature in most Telangana towns was above 42 degrees. Khammam in Telangana remained on the boil. On May 23, the mercury had touched 48 degrees, the highest in the past 68 years.
Over the past couple of days, the temperature has dipped by a degree or two, but most people have locked themselves up indoors to escape the intense heat.
For the metrically challenged, 48ºC is equivalent to 118.4º Fahrenheit.