Heat wave kills 55 in Orissa

Prafulla Das

BHUBANESWAR: An unrelenting heat wave continued to grip Orissa with most parts of the State recording high temperatures on Monday. As the situation remained unbearable during the day due to strong hot wind and extreme humidity, reports of sunstroke deaths came pouring in from the rural areas.

The industrial town of Talcher in Angul district, which recorded 49 degrees Celsius on Sunday, recorded the season's highest temperature of 49.5 degrees Celsius. The Capital city of Bhubaneswar, which recorded 46.3 degrees Celsius on Sunday, had no respite from the blistering heat. It recorded a maximum day temperature of 44.6 degrees Celsius. Sundargarh recorded a temperature of 47.1 degrees Celsius and Jharsuguda 46.2.

The officials of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre said that the condition was likely to prevail over some parts of the State in the next 48 hours. There was no indication of the monsoon breaking in the State in the coming two days, they said.

The number of reported deaths due to sunstroke rose to 235 on Monday, from 244 on Sunday. However, the officials manning the Revenue Control Room said that 55 deaths had been confirmed so far.

The toll is likely to go up as many of these deaths were under verification.

Taking note of the prevailing condition, the Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, declared Tuesday as a special holiday for all Government offices in the State.

The School and Mass Education Minister, Nagendra Pradhan, issued an order on Sunday directing all the schools to reopen on June 20 instead of June 16.

Heat wave condition is not new to Orissa. A killer heatwave had claimed over 2000 lives in the State in 1998. But the delay in the arrival of monsoon this time has aggravated the situation. Several areas are experiencing the heat wave for more than three weeks now.

The prolonged summer has also aggravated the drinking water crisis in different parts of the State with tube wells and ponds drying up fast.

Absence of pre-monsoon shower has worsened the situation in Bolangir, Sonepur and Nuapada district in the State's western region.

The authorities have taken various measures to make people aware about coping with the high temperatures and also made provisions for treatment of sunstroke victims in the Government hospitals. But many people are dying before they could reach the hospitals.

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