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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Heat abates in southern India
Women check a parched field
The heat wave has hurt India's farmers the most
Heavy rains have lowered the temperature in many parts of Andhra Pradesh, the southern Indian state hit hardest by the recent heat wave.

Coastal districts along the Bay of Bengal experienced heavy showers which lowered the temperature from 49C in many areas to more bearable levels.

State capital Hyderabad has seen heavy downpours since Thursday and the temperature there has dropped by 10C to 33C.

But as reports of casualties come in from remote parts of the state, the toll of heat-related deaths has risen to 622.

State Relief Commissioner DC Roshaiah says West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur are the worst-hit districts, with each reporting more than 100 deaths.

Dry wells

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu described the tragedy as unprecedented in the state's history and offered 50,000 rupees ($1,000) to the family of every victim.

Young girl waits with empty pails by a well
A lot is riding on this year's monsoon rains

He has asked the central government in Delhi for emergency assistance and help with medical relief for the affected areas in his state.

The heat wave has affected agricultural land, some of which will not support crops until rains restore the underground water-table.

Many villagers who rely on wells to draw water for drinking and washing have seen their water sources run dry.

Now that the rains have begun, hopes have risen that life will return to normal.

Besides Andhra Pradesh, northern Indian states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and the federal capital Delhi too have been baking for the past couple of weeks.

Normally, much needed monsoon rains fall across much of the subcontinent in late May or early June.

See also:

16 May 02 | South Asia
Heat 'kills 450' in southern India
17 May 02 | South Asia
India's heat wave tragedy
15 May 02 | South Asia
Hundreds die in Indian heat
13 May 02 | South Asia
India swelters under heat wave
07 Jul 00 | Health
The health risks of a heat wave
24 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
India's global warming fears
27 Apr 00 | South Asia
In pictures: India's drought
02 May 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: India
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