Heatwave pushes death toll in India

Marje Pelayo   •   June 18, 2019   •   1073

Courtesy : Image grabbed from a Reuters video

INDIA – As many as 28 people have died in India’s Gaya city due to heat stroke, Bihar state health minister, Mangal Pandey, said on Monday (June 17).

Hospital wards at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College were full of people lying on hospital beds suffering from heat exhaustion over the weekend.

Speaking at a news conference, Pandy said that in some cases people had been brought into hospitals already dead.

The government of Bihar has ordered that all schools in the region remain closed until June 22 due to the intense heat after being previously due to reopen on Monday following the end of summer holidays.

At least 36 people have died from a heatwave this year, with the nation’s capital Delhi recording its highest-ever temperature of 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit), and temperatures in Churu in Rajasthan state hitting 51C.

India typically witnesses water scarcity during summer months, but the situation this year is particularly bad due to less than normal rainfall in the 2018 monsoon season.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had predicted that a heatwave would hit India from mid-March but the weather turned extreme in mid-May and is expected to last until mid-June. – REUTERS

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Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

Cyclone Amphan tears into India; destroys homes, whips up storm surge

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

A powerful cyclone tore into eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday (May 20), destroying mud houses and embankments and whipping up a storm surge along the coast, officials said, after millions of people were moved out of its path.

At least one 70-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Bangladesh’s coastal Bhola district, a police official said. The low-lying country has evacuated 2.4 million people to shelters.

Another 650,000 people have been moved to safety in the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, authorities said, an operation carried out amid surging coronavirus infections.

It was too early to estimate a toll on life or damage to property.

Cyclone Amphan began moving inland with winds gusting up to 185 kph, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told reporters.

Mohapatra said that the storm surge could rise to around five metres in the Sundarbans delta, home to around four million people and thick mangrove forests that are a critical tiger habitat.

The storm will also sweep past Kolkata, a sprawling city of 4.5 million people, where strong winds uprooted trees and electricity poles, littering several streets, television showed.

A home ministry official said authorities in West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha had struggled to house thousands of evacuees as shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centres.

Extra shelters were being prepared in markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks were being distributed to villagers.

Police in West Bengal said some people were unwilling to go to the shelters because they were afraid of being infected by the coronavirus and many were refusing to leave their livestock. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Mussab Al-Khairalla)

Super cyclone brings heavy rain, tidal waves to eastern India

UNTV News   •   May 20, 2020

Heavy rains and winds lashed two eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal hours before a powerful cyclone made landfall on Wednesday (May 20), with rescue teams evacuating millions of villagers to higher ground in an operation complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The weather department in India said Amphan had slowed and was likely to cross the coast near West Bengal state or Bangladesh around 2:30 p.m. (0900 GMT).

An Indian federal home ministry official said West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha state were struggling to house thousands of evacuees as existing shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centers.

Extra shelters were being prepared in wholesale markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks and scarves were being distributed among the villagers. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Tanya Lezaic)

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