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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
India heat wave 'kills 200'
Drought conditions in Bhopal, India
The high temperatures have caused a shortage of drinking water
About 200 people have died in a heat wave sweeping the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh while many other states are experiencing severe drought.

Temperatures have soared as high as 47.2C in the southern state.

The high temperatures led to a shortage of drinking water and deaths through dehydration and sunstroke, said DC Roshaiah, chief of Andhra Pradesh relief operations.

Slight relief came on Friday as the mercury dipped by two degrees in the worst-hit districts on the Bay of Bengal coast.

However, temperatures could rise again in coming days, particularly in the inland northern region of Telangana, the weather office warned.

We are helpless and have to use stinking and dirty water for washing and bathing
Gujarat resident

The provincial government has urged people to stay indoors and drink plenty of fluid.

It has also announced payments of 10,000 rupees ($214) for the families of each victim.

The situation should improve with the approaching monsoon rains, which usually reach the south coast in the first week of June.

Last year, a heat wave killed more than 1,000 people in the state and caused devastating drought.

Rajasthan row

Pakistan has also suffered in the heat wave, with at least 30 dead in the centre and south of the country.

At least 17 people have died in Punjab province, where temperatures hit 47C.

Another 13 were reported dead in southern Sindh province.

A man tries to relax in the scorching heat of Delhi
The monsoon rains do not normally arrive in the south until early June

Droughts accompanying the heat wave have struck many western and northern Indian states.

Rajasthan, which is witnessing its fourth consecutive year of drought, is particularly badly hit.

All 32 districts have been declared drought regions.

The Congress-led government of the state has complained that the BJP-led central government is not providing sufficient aid.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot says he has asked for $1.5bn of central assistance but has received only $130m.

Central government says it has already given more than three million tonnes of grain but Mr Gehlot says it has not reached affected people.

Similar drought conditions prevail in the neighbouring state of Gujarat.

Among the worst affected is the state's Saurashtra region which has been facing a water shortage for almost a decade.

"We are helpless and have to use stinking and dirty water for washing and bathing," said Shehnaz, a resident of Nawagam Ghed in Jamnagar.


SEE ALSO:
Drive to link Indian rivers
23 May 03  |  South Asia
World's wettest area dries up
28 Apr 03  |  South Asia
India's heat wave tragedy
17 May 02  |  South Asia
The health risks of a heat wave
07 Jul 00  |  Health


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