At least 40 people have been killed in the heatwave in Gujarat in the last four days as the mercury continued to rise above 45 degrees Celsius in most parts of the State, barring coastal areas. The weather bureau said the severe heatwave conditions would continue at least for two more days.

Idar town in Sabarkantha district, which registered the century's hottest day on May 21 with the mercury rising to a record 48.5 degrees C, recorded 46.8 degrees Celsius on Sunday. Deesa town in the neighbouring Banaskantha district also recorded a high of 46.2 degrees Celsius, while in Ahmedabad, the maximum temperature, which came down from Friday's 40 years' record-breaking high of 46.8 to 44.5 degrees Celsius on Saturday, rose again on Sunday to 45.8 degrees C.

The temperature in Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhuj and most other towns recorded above 45 degrees while in Surat, a coastal city, the temperature was only 36.4 degrees Celsius.

Nine persons died following sunstroke on Sunday with Ahmedabad alone accounting for four deaths, while two died in Mehsana and a 10-year old girl in Jhalod.

Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas admitted that government hospitals on an average were receiving 700 to 800 more patients a day during the last four days with sunstroke or other heatwave-related diseases, including gastroenteritis and food poisoning. With many of the natural water holes having dried up in the Gir forest, the only abode of the Asiatic Lions, the State government has created about 600 artificial water holes for the animals to quench their thirst. The voluntary organisations reported deaths of bats, crows and other birds due to heatwave.

Keywords: Asiatic Lions