India and Pakistan swelter Bangladesh braces for storm
India and Pakistan swelter Bangladesh braces for storm

India and Pakistan swelter, Bangladesh braces for storm

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – At least 11 people have died of suspected heat-related causes in western India and Pakistan also sweltered on Friday in extreme heat, while parts of Bangladesh and neighbouring states braced for a likely cyclone hit this weekend.

Local media reported nine deaths that were suspected to be heat-related in India’s western Rajasthan state, where temperature in the desert town of Phalodi reached 49 degrees Celsius (120.2 Fahrenheit) on Friday – the highest temperature recorded in the country this year.

Disaster management officials in the state said they had yet to ascertain the cause of the deaths, as medical examinations were not complete.

Weather officials have warned of conditions ranging from a heatwave to severe heatwave in many parts of the state, as well as in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

At least two people have died of heat stroke in the western city of Ahmedabad, Additional Superintendent Rajnish Patel told media outlet Divya Bhaskar.

Many people have been taken to hospital in the city with heat-related illnesses in the past three days, said Vikas Bihani, a spokesperson for the state-run ambulance service.

India declares a heatwave when the temperature touches 40 C (104 F) in the plains, a departure of at least 4.5 Celsius from the normal maximum temperature.

India’s summer temperatures often peak in May, but scientists have predicted more heatwave days than usual this year, largely caused by fewer non-monsoon thunder showers and an active but weakening dry El Nino weather phenomenon.

In neighbouring Pakistan, the climate change ministry said about 26 districts were boiling in a severe heatwave as of Thursday, with the current hot spell likely to last until May 30.

The temperature was expected to hit 50 C (122 F)) in at least two cities on Friday in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, where school exams have been delayed due to the blistering heat.

CYCLONE IN BANGLADESH

Further east, “severe cyclonic storm” Remal was expected to make landfall in Bangladesh and parts of West Bengal in eastern India on Sunday, with wind speeds of up to 120 kph (75 mph), the India Meteorological Department said.

In the southern Indian state of Kerala at least seven people died this week following pre-monsoon rains that were about 18% percent heavier than normal, bringing floods that disrupted flights in some areas.

Kerala was likely to be lashed with very heavy to extremely heavy rain on Friday too.

Extreme temperatures throughout Asia last month were made worse most likely as a result of human-driven climate change, a team of international scientists have said.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta; Additional reporting by Amit Dave in Ahmedabad, Gibran Peshimam in Karachi, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Michael Perry and Frances Kerry)

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