The toll in three Bihar districts worst affected by a heatwave rose to 76 on Monday, PTI reported. Aurangabad has reported 33 deaths since last week, Gaya 31 and Nawada 12, the Disaster Management Department said.

The Bihar government has ordered all schools and colleges to remain closed until June 22, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar said. All markets in Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada will remain closed from 11 am to 5 pm, he added. All construction activities will cease from 10 am in the morning until the evening.

Magadh Range Additional Health Director Dr Vijay Kumar said that nearly 150 people have been admitted in government-run hospitals in Gaya, Aurangabad and Nawada over the past week, IANS reported. Dozens are being treated at primary health centres.

Gaya recorded a maximum temperature of 42.4 degrees Celsius, five degrees above normal on Monday, the India Meteorological Department said. Patna recorded the same maximum temperature, six degrees above normal. Bhagalpur recorded 41.6 degrees Celsius, six notches above normal for this time of the year.

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan called the deaths in Gaya unfortunate and advised people against leaving their homes during peak hours. Gaya District Administration chief Abhishek Singh said no work related to the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act will be carried out after 10.30 am.

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.

The overall toll in Bihar due to the heat conditions could be as high as 184, India Today reported on Monday.

A heatwave is declared when the temperature is at least 4.5 degrees Celsius above normal for two straight days. 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, India has experienced 11 of its 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.