May records 125% jump in heatwave days, says IMD; casualties too surge

Exposure to a longer duration of heatwaves caused a number of heat-related deaths.
A man takes refuge inside a concrete pipe from the scorching heat on a hot summer day, in Gurugram, Thursday, May 30, 2024.
A man takes refuge inside a concrete pipe from the scorching heat on a hot summer day, in Gurugram, Thursday, May 30, 2024. FILE Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: Heatwave days across the country rose by 125% in May, a record jump compared to normal, impacting a billion people, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Exposure to a longer duration of heatwaves caused a number of heat-related deaths. IMD recorded 206 days of heatwaves against the normal 92 days in 36 sub-divisions of the country.

However, Kerala, coastal Karnataka, Konkan and the north-eastern region have reported no heatwave days. April saw 118 heatwave days against the normal 71, a 66% increase.

West Rajasthan recorded the highest heatwave days in May (16 days), followed by east Rajasthan (14), Haryana and Gujarat (12). Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, western and eastern Uttar Pradesh, and western Madhya Pradesh each experienced 10 days of heatwave.

The heatwave has led to a sudden rise in the number of deaths in Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Haryana, Odisha and Jharkhand. Reports indicate that 130 suspected heat-related deaths were recorded in Rajasthan, 26 in Odisha, 14 in Bihar, and 13 in UP.

Rising heatwaves are a global phenomenon due to climate change. A recent study by a group of non-profit organisations shows that the average person on earth had experienced 26 more days of abnormally high temperatures in the past year than normal due to human-induced climate change.

The report said that in the last 12 months, 6.3 billion people—roughly 80% of the global population—experienced at least 31 days of extreme heat.

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