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Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

NEW DELHI | A record heat wave has hit India and Pakistan, causing power cuts and water shortages for millions of people who are expected to experience this furnace with increasing frequency in the future, according to climate change experts.

The temperature in Delhi was approaching 46 degrees Celsius on Thursday. And this extreme heat wave is expected to rage for another five days in northwest and central India and until the end of the week in the east, according to the Indian meteorological department.


Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

“It’s the first time I’ve seen such heat in April,” exclaimed Dara Singh, 65, who has run a small street shop in Delhi since 1978. “The betel leaves I use to sell the paan (chewing tobacco, editor’s note) spoil more quickly than usual. Usually this happens around May, at the peak of summer.

India’s northwest Rajasthan, western Gujarat and southern Andhra Pradesh have imposed power cuts on factories to reduce consumption. According to press reports, major power plants are facing coal shortages.


Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

Several regions in the country of 1.4 billion people were reporting a drop in water supply that will only get worse until the annual monsoon rains in June and July.

In March, Delhi experienced a high of 40.1 degrees, the hottest temperature on record for that month since 1946.

“Warmer and more dangerous” waves

Heat waves have killed more than 6,500 people in India since 2010. Scientists say that due to climate change they are more frequent but also more severe.


Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

“Climate change makes high temperatures in India more likely,” said Dr Mariam Zachariah of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.

“Before human activities increased global temperatures, heat like the one that hit India earlier this month would only have been observed about once every 50 years,” she added.

“We can now expect such high temperatures about once every four years,” she warns.


Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

For her colleague, Dr Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute, “heat waves in India and elsewhere will continue to get hotter and more dangerous, until net greenhouse gas emissions end. greenhouse effect”.

“Temperatures are rising rapidly across the country, and rising much earlier than usual,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, the day after a fire broke out on the 60-meter-high Bhalswa garbage mountain. meters), in North Delhi.

On Thursday, according to a fire official in the capital, firefighters were still battling the fire, whose thick smoke added to the air pollution, hoping to bring it under control by Friday.

Three other fires broke out in less than a month in the largest landfill in the capital, Ghazipur, a gigantic mountain of waste 65 meters high.

48 degrees in Pakistan

The megalopolis of more than 20 million inhabitants lacks modern infrastructure to process the 12,000 tons of waste it produces daily.

According to Pradeep Khandelwal, former head of Delhi’s waste management department, all these fires are probably caused by extremely high temperatures which accelerate the decomposition of organic waste.


Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

Neighboring Pakistan was also experiencing extreme heat on Thursday, which is expected to continue into next week. Temperatures are expected to be 8 degrees above normal in parts of the country, peaking at 48 degrees in parts of rural Sindh on Wednesday, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Society.

Farmers will have to manage the water supply wisely, in this country where agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, employs around 40% of the total workforce.


Record heatwave hits India and Pakistan, worst is yet to come

“The nation’s public health and agriculture will face serious threats from this year’s extreme temperatures,” Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said.

March was the hottest on record since 1961, according to Pakistan’s meteorological office.

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