Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Hundreds dead in India as temperatures soar past 47 degrees -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

MARK COLVIN: More than 540 people have been killed in an extreme heat wave which has gripped large parts of India.

It’s expected to be over 45 degrees in the capital New Delhi today. A few days ago in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the thermometer his almost 48 degrees.

Most of the deaths though have been in south India. Hospitals have been inundated with patients suffering heatstroke and dehydration.

Jessica Kidd reports.

JESSICA KIDD: India is known for its searing summer heat, but this year an extreme heat wave baking the country has killed hundreds of people.

Dr Dileep Mavalankar is a Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health in the west coast state of Gujarat. He says most people are dying of heatstroke and dehydration.

DILEEP MAVALANKAR: Generally young people working outdoors in heat. But there is overall increase in all cause mortality, and in which people with older age or even young age have been affected.

JESSICA KIDD: Most of the people have died in southern Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. Officials there are warning people to stay inside during the hottest part of the day.

Local authorities have set up cooling stations to hand out water and buttermilk, and hospitals in both states have been inundated with patients seeking treatment for heatstroke.

Rajesh is a caretaker in Andhra Pradesh. He says the government should be doing more to help people cope.

RAJESH (voiceover): My brother Kishore is admitted here. He suffered sunstroke while going to work yesterday morning. His condition became serious. People said that the temperature touched 45 degrees Celsius yesterday.

It was extremely hot. I have never experienced such intense heat in (inaudible) before. The government needs to take precautions to help people in this situation.

JESSICA KIDD: In Kolkata, taxi drivers are refusing to work between 11am and 4pm after two cab drivers died in their cars last week.

Priscilla Rozario is a researcher at the University of Calcutta and says the city is struggling in the stifling heat.

PRISCILLA ROZARIO: Even the government and all the newspapers, they are also requesting the people that if it's possible to stay indoors from 11 to three because that's the time when the sun's unbearable.

And we have many cases of cab drivers for instance, or people (inaudible) and the traffic cops - the traffic police who are out on the road - they are having a difficult time too. So it's a life and death situation to go out on the road.

JESSICA KIDD: Dr Dileep Mavalankar helped to develop South Asia's first Heat Action Plan. It includes an early warning system for extreme heat days and sets out procedures for public health officials and hospitals.

Dr Mavalankar believes most Indian states have failed to properly warn people of the dangers of heat stroke.

DILEEP MAVALANKAR: There is hardly any government advisory on what to do. Very few advertisements are coming.

Normally in any other natural disaster, there are lots of advertisements, government is saying what to do in times of earthquake or in cyclone or some other. But heatwave, as of now, the communication part is weak.

JESSICA KIDD: Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat is the only city which has adopted the heat action plan.

But Dr Mavalankar argues many deaths could have been avoided if the plan was implemented across India.

DILEEP MAVALANKAR: (Inaudible) in Ahmedabad we started with action plan in 2013. There was no heatwave in that year but 2014 had a heatwave.

We compared it, the mortality as compared to 2010, heatwave was about 30 to 40 per cent less.So we feel that heat action plans could avoid another mortality.

JESSICA KIDD: Forecasters say the heatwave will continue for at least another week, but cooler weather won't arrive until monsoon season starts in June.

MARK COLVIN: Jessica Kidd.