Large parts of northern India were in the grip of extreme heatwave conditions on Wednesday, with Delhi reporting the country’s highest-ever temperature on record at 52.3 degree Celsius, NDTV reported.

A weather station at Mungeshpur in the national capital recorded an ambient temperature of 52.3 degree Celsius at 2.30 pm. This was around nine degrees higher than normal.

However, a press release issued by the India Meteorological Department late in the evening said that the maximum temperature recorded at Mungeshpur during the day, which was reported to be 52.9 degree Celsius, was an outlier compared to other stations.

“It could be due to error in the sensor or the local factor,” the weather agency said. “IMD [India Meteorological Department] is examining the data and sensors.”

Union minister Kiren Rijiju too said that the temperature of 52.3 degree Celsius recorded in the captial was “highly unlikely”.

The temperature in Delhi was nine degrees above normal a day earlier too, reported The Hindu.

A late afternoon downpour on Wednesday brought some respite to citizens in the capital.

India Meteorological Department Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra attributed the heatwave to the absence of western disturbances in northern India in the latter half of May. Western disturbances are weather systems that move eastward after forming over the Mediterranean Sea, bringing cooling winds to North India in summer months.

The heatwave led to an all-time high power demand in Delhi of 8,302 megawatts as citizens switched on power-intensive air conditioners, NDTV reported, quoting unidentified electricity department officials.

The Delhi Jal Board also announced that a fine of Rs 2,000 would be imposed on anyone found to be wasting water, reported India Today. The orders were issued in view of a water crisis in the capital amid soaring temperatures.

Other parts of the country

The India Meteorological Department on Wednesday said that severe heatwave conditions were likely in most parts of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. A severe heatwave is declared when the daytime maximum temperature of a place exceeds the normal temperature by 6.5 degrees Celsius or more.

Many parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and isolated pockets of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha were also caught in the grip of the heatwave, the weather agency added.

The heatwave could subside after May 30, the weather agency said, according to The Hindu.

The temperature remained five degrees above normal in most parts of northern India on Wednesday, reported The Times of India.

Rajasthan’s Churu and Haryana’s Sirsa districts recorded temperatures above 50 degree Celsius, the Hindustan Times reported. Rajasthan’s health department on Tuesday said that three persons had died of a heat stroke in Jaipur.

In Bihar, several students at a school in the Sheikhpura area fainted as the temperature there touched 47 degree Celsius on Wednesday, India Today reported.

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