South Asia reels under extreme weather; India records 56 fatalities from heatwaves

South Asia has been experiencing severe weather extremes, with India recording nearly 25,000 cases of suspected heat stroke and 56 fatalities from heatwaves between March and May, according to local media citing government data.

May proved particularly harsh, with temperatures in Delhi and Rajasthan soaring to 50 degrees Celsius. This heatwave has significantly impacted northern states, with the National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) reporting 46 heat-related deaths and 19,189 suspected heat stroke cases in May alone. Including all suspected cases, the death toll could be as high as 80, as reported by The Hindu. The central state of Madhya Pradesh alone accounted for over 5,000 heatstroke cases.

In stark contrast, parts of eastern India are grappling with the aftermath of cyclone Remal. Heavy rains in Assam have resulted in 14 deaths since Tuesday. Meanwhile, the island nation of Sri Lanka has faced devastating floods and landslides due to monsoon rains, with at least 15 fatalities reported by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) on Sunday.

These extreme weather events are attributed to a combination of factors, including human-driven climate change, which scientists say is exacerbating the severity and frequency of such incidents. The intense heatwave claimed the lives of 33 people in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha on Friday, including election officials who were on duty during India’s recent general election.

The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted a temporary respite from the heatwave, with less severe conditions expected until Wednesday. The early arrival of the monsoon in Kerala last week is anticipated to bring much-needed relief across the region.

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