Scorching heatwave in India's Rajasthan kills nine

A woman walks back towards her home after filling water from a shallow well in a desert area on a hot summer day in Barmer, Rajasthan, India, 26 April, 2024.Reuters

At least nine people have died of suspected heat stroke in India's western state of Rajasthan, media said on Friday, with temperatures expected to soar further amid predictions of a severe heat wave.

Searing heat in the country's north has been a cause of concern during a mammoth general election, and the capital, New Delhi, is set to vote on Saturday in temperatures forecast to be around 45 degrees C (113 degrees F).

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 thundershowers and an active but weakening El Nino weather phenomenon.

At least nine deaths in Rajasthan were suspected to have resulted from people falling sick in the sweltering heat, local media said.

The state's disaster management officials told Reuters they had yet to ascertain the cause, as medical examinations were not complete.

The news comes after the city of Barmer in Rajasthan topped temperature charts this week with a record 48.8 C (119.84 F) on Thursday.

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

Indian weather officials set the heatwave threshold at a maximum temperature of 40 C (104 F) in the country's plains, as well as a departure of at least 4.5 C from the normal maximum temperature.

In the southern state of Kerala, by contrast, at least seven people died following pre-monsoon rains that were about 18 per cent percent heavier than normal, bringing floods that disrupted flight schedules in some areas.

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