India heatwave death toll rises to 135

BHUBANESWAR , India, April 13 (UPI) — Twenty-four new deaths were reported from a heatwave in India’s eastern Odisha state, bringing the nationwide total this week to 135, officials said Wednesday.

The deaths were caused by sunstroke, as temperatures of 105.5 degrees Fahrenheit were recorded Tuesday at 19 locations across the state. The highest was 121.1 degrees Fahrenheit in the town of Titilargth. The temperature Monday in Bhubaneswar, a city of 800,000 and Odisha’s capital, rose to 114.44 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heatwave extends across much of northern India, and traditional April rains have been delayed by the unusually high temperatures. Meteorologists characterize the early arrival of the heat as after-effects of El Niño, an irregularly-occurring weather phenomenon resulting in variations in winds and sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The El Niño conditions are likely to reduce in power later this month, the India Meterological Department said, suggesting that monsoons, a welcome and regular occurrence depended on by farmers, will arrive as expected.

Parts of India’s interior remain dry, with drought conditions, following a poor monsoon season in 2015.

In the first week of April, temperatures rose across much of India. In two southern states last week, Telengana and Andrha Pradesh, the heatwave killed at least 111 people.

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