Thirty people have died in the last three days in the deadly cold wave that has swept Jharkhand.

In the State capital, the mercury level dropped to 1.8 degree Celsius on Sunday, four degrees below average, the Ranchi meteorological department said.

The Jharkhand government has ordered the municipal authorities to light bonfires on the streets to help the homeless survive the extreme weather.

G.K. Mohanty, director of the Met office said, “Cold wave will continue for the next 48 hours and people need to take more precautions.”

Blankets distributed

Deputy Commissioner K.K. Soran said blankets were being distributed among slum dwellers and rickshaw pullers. “Till now 8,000 blankets have been distributed. And soon we will arrange more bonfires on the streets to help the poor fight the cold.”

Rickshaw puller Chumru Oraon, who is homeless, said that he did not receive any blanket yet, though he has heard of others getting one. “Every year a lot of rickshaw pullers die of cold,” he said. “This is common in Ranchi.”

Oraon's friends said fires are no solution since they rarely stay alight through the night. Moreover, many have acquired cold-related illness, but cannot afford medication.

Most of the deaths were due to cardiac arrest following extreme cold conditions. In Daltanganj, Jamshedpur and Pakur, the extreme weather has been continuing for a week now, with the minimum temperature dipping to 6.2, 7.8 and 7 degrees respectively.

Temperatures in Ranchi may touch zero degree Celsius, according to the Met department.

Reason

The cold wave in the State was due to the western disturbance in north-east India, said Mr. Mohanty.

Keywords: Cold wave