Heatwave kills nearly 200 homeless people in one week in Indian capital

As many as 52 bodies brought to hospitals in past two days — mostly of those who worked and lived in open

By  Reuters   |  
June 20, 2024
A man covers his face using a cloth to shield himself from the sun as he inspects railway tracks during a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, June 18, 2024. — Reuters


NEW DELHI: Around 200 homeless people have died in the Indian capital in the past week due to the prevailing heatwave in the country, said a group dedicated to helping homeless individuals.

As many as 52 bodies were brought to hospitals in the past two days, the Times of India reported on Thursday, adding that most of them were poor people who lived and worked in the open.

Centre for Holistic Development has said, according to government figures, a total of 192 homeless people died in New Delhi between June 11 and June 19 — a number higher than those reported in previous years.

"The poorest bear the cost of such climate change. Most of these people live below flyovers and out in the open and have no protection against the heat. These are mostly heatwave deaths," Sunil Kumar Aledia, who runs CHD, told Reuters.

India has recorded more than 40,000 suspected heatstroke cases this summer and at least 110 confirmed deaths between March 1 and June 18, when northwest and eastern India recorded more than twice the usual number of heatwave days.

"A prolonged summer should be classified as a natural disaster," The Hindu newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday, pointing towater shortagesand recordpower demand.

Thehealth ministryordered federal and state institutions to ensure immediate attention to patients, while hospitals were directed to make more beds available.

The weather office has forecast above-normal temperatures for this month as well, and Delhi saw its warmest night in over 50 years on Wednesday, with a minimum temperature of 35.2°C (95°F), data from the weather department showed.

Temperatures, however, dropped nearly 6°C to 37°C (98.6°F) on Thursday in the capital after rain brought respite from the heat, weather department data showed.