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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
India swelters under heat wave
Some states may have to wait for the monsoon rains
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By Rajyasri Rao
BBC reporter in Delhi

Much of northern India is reeling under a severe heat wave with temperatures in some places reaching 47 degrees Celsius.

Haryana farmer walks across his parched land
Farmers have been hit the hardest

Officials from the Indian meteorological department say although some parts may see a modest drop in temperatures, the condition is likely to persist in most affected regions.

They say temperatures will drop when the monsoon rains blow into the sub-continent early next month.

Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab have been hit the hardest by the heat wave, while the northern reaches of Madhya Pradesh and the coastal districts of southern Andhra Pradesh are only slightly cooler.

A number of people are reported to have died of heat-related causes in these states in recent days although details remain sketchy.

Devastating heat

The Director of the Indian Meteorological Department, HR Hathwar, told the BBC that the year 1998 was considered one of the hottest across the globe.

Delhi rickshaw-pullers doze in the heat
The Indian capital too has seen temperatures rise

That year, the temperature in some parts of the desert state of Rajasthan reached close to 50 degrees Celsius.

Mr Hathwar said that while the current spell is not extraordinary, it still is many degrees above the normal range.

In some places the temperature is now up to 5 degrees higher than the expected average.

The northern state of Haryana recorded 47 degrees Celsius over the weekend.

Delayed relief

But Mr Hathwar said the reason why the heat is being felt acutely this time is that dust-storms and thunder-storms that usually accompany such heat spells have mostly been absent.

Rajasthani farmer in despair
Many victims will need help to recover

Hot winds blowing in relentlessly from areas of Pakistan adjacent to Rajasthan are believed to be especially responsible for this season's high temperatures.

And although weather forecasts suggest relief in the next 48 hours or so for Delhi and adjoining areas, Mr Hathwar says other places may have to wait until June.

That is when the monsoon rains are expected to hit the southern state of Kerala, sending cool winds northwards.

See also:

24 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
India's global warming fears
30 Apr 00 | South Asia
India drought spreads
27 Apr 00 | South Asia
In pictures: India's drought
23 Apr 00 | South Asia
Drought appeal in India
09 Apr 00 | South Asia
Fatal heatwave in India
02 May 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
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