Heatwave claims dozens of lives in India

India is in the grip of the highest temperatures ever, with at least 77 people dying in the last 10 days due to the effects of climate change

An unprecedented heatwave sweeping across India has claimed the lives of at least 77 people in the past ten days, including numerous polling officials, just as the world’s largest general elections came to a close.

Record-breaking temperatures

Temperatures soared to unprecedented levels, with parts of the capital Delhi reaching 121.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest ever recorded in India. This scorching heat coincided with the six-week-long elections that witnessed massive voter turnout despite adverse weather conditions.

Tragic losses in Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, 33 polling officials died in a single day. Each of their families will receive compensation of $18,000, as announced by the state’s chief electoral officer, Navdeep Rinwa. Despite safety measures such as water dispensers and misting fans, voter turnout was low in some areas due to unbearable heat.

India’s vulnerability to climate change

India, as experts emphasize, remains among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. The recent heatwaves underscore the urgent need to address the climate crisis, which has made such extreme heat events more frequent and intense.

Future preparedness

With approximately 642 million people participating in the elections despite the challenges, it marks the highest turnout ever recorded. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears poised for a third consecutive term, the electoral event has been marred by tragic human losses, highlighting the necessity to confront the looming threat of climate change.

Experts warn that such extreme conditions will become increasingly common, testing India’s adaptability. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), India’s vulnerability to climate change carries significant implications for its economic and social development.

Long-term solutions

India must, therefore, prepare rigorously to manage future heatwaves and enhance infrastructure to safeguard its citizens. While rainfall may temporarily alleviate the heat, long-term solutions are imperative to prevent further tragedies and ensure the safety and well-being of the population.

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