Heatwave claims 17 lives in Delhi hospitals in 24 hours

In Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia and Safdarjung hospitals, a total of 17 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours that doctors suspect were caused by the intense heat.

A heat wave sweeping through India’s capital claimed at least 17 lives over the past 24 hours, according to officials at two of Delhi’s biggest hospitals Thursday.

The suspected heat-related fatalities come as a weeklong scorching spell saw temperatures soar past 48 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in parts of the city, leaving residents struggling to cope.

Delhi received some temporary relief Thursday morning with light rainfall in some areas. But the respite is expected to be brief, with meteorologists forecasting the punishing heat to persist for several more days.

At the city’s Ram Manohar Lohia and Safdarjung hospitals, a total of 17 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours that doctors suspect were caused by the intense heat. It is said that many of the victims are homeless people or impoverished manual labourers whose work demands them to be out in the blazing sun for long hours.

Heatstroke is considered a medical emergency that can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles if left untreated. Symptoms include high body temperature, headaches, dizziness, a rapid strong pulse, and in severe cases, loss of consciousness.

Large parts of northern India have been in the grips of an intense heat wave since mid-April, with temperatures touching 48 C (113F) in several areas. India’s weather agency has issued health warnings and advice to avoid any unnecessary exposure to the scorching sun.

Hospitals across Delhi and other cities have been preparing cooling units and stocking up on emergency supplies to deal with any surge in heat-related illnesses in the coming days.

Experts say heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change. A major heat wave in 2015 in India caused the deaths of over 3,500 people.

This year’s hot spell came earlier than normal, with April marking India’s hottest in 122 years. Forecasts suggest it will continue beyond this week, heightening fears of another deadly heat event.