At least 61 people have died in three districts of Bihar as the state reels under an intense heatwave, PTI reported on Monday. Most of the deaths were reported from Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada districts in Southwest Bihar. Temperature in these regions had touched 46 degrees Celsius the day before.
Since Saturday, 30 people have died in Aurangabad, while 20 died in Gaya and 11 in Nawada district, Principal Secretary of Disaster Management Department Pratyaya Amrit told PTI. All government schools in Bihar have been closed till June 22, according to ANI.
The Patna Meteorological Centre on Monday said “severe heatwave prevailed at one or two places over South-East and South-central part and heatwave prevailed at a few places over North-West, North-Central and South-East part of Bihar” in the past 24 hours. It predicted heatwave in several districts of Northwest Bihar on Tuesday.
Gaya district magistrate issued an order under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits unlawful assembly, to stop construction works by the government and governmental and non-governmental organisations, MGNREGA labour work, and cultural programmes and gatherings at open spaces between 11 am to 4 pm.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the deceased, and instructed officials to take necessary measures to provide medical help to those affected.
On Sunday, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan had termed the deaths in Gaya as unfortunate. “It is very unfortunate that people have died due to heat stroke,” he had said. “I advise people to avoid moving out of the house till temperature reduces. Intense heat affects the brain and leads to various health issues.”
A heatwave is declared when the temperature touches 45 degrees Celsius for two straight days. A severe heatwave is declared when it touches 47 degrees. On Saturday, Gaya recorded a maximum temperature of 45.2 degrees Celsius, eight degrees above normal.
Several parts of India reeled under a heatwave last week. By June 12, the heatwave spell had stretched for 32 days, the second-longest spell ever recorded.
Heatwaves have become frequent over the last few years. Since 2004, the country has experienced 11 of the 15 warmest years. Since 2010, more than 6,000 people have died in heat waves across the country, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had told the Lok Sabha in 2018.