India Thirsts For Monsoon As Scorching Heat Hits Area Temperature Hits 114 In New Delhi On Friday
A deadly heat wave has left millions of Indians longing for the monsoon, a yearly deluge that turns down the temperature, puts out the fires and fills up the rivers.
Newspapers have been carrying daily stories and charts predicting when the monsoon will move north and reach the burning plains of central and northern India, where temperatures have surpassed 111 every day for more than two weeks.
So far, the heat has killed nearly 350 Indians, many of them elderly people or day laborers.
In New Delhi, it was 114 Friday - the same as Thursday. And the experts said those temperatures would hang around.
“There’s no end in sight now,” said Dr. G.S. Mandal, a director-general of the Department of Meteorology. “The monsoon is still not very close to the capital.”
In the deserts of Rajasthan, the streets of New Delhi and the farmland of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar states, the air has been so hot and dry that peoples’ eyes burn.
Some walk under umbrellas to stay out of the sun. Others wear gloves to keep their sweaty hands on their motorcycle handlebars. Adults as well as children dip in fountains to try to keep cool.
In the emergency room of New Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital on Friday, a new widow cried as her 35-year-old husband was wheeled away, the apparent victim of heat stroke.
The woman, Perveen Rafiq, said her husband died shortly after a seven-hour train ride in a stifling hot lower-class car with no water.
“I’ll bet his fever is still 106 to 107 degrees,” Dr. Vikar Rampar said, touching the dead man’s leg.
The heat wave has also caused forest fires in northern Uttar Pradesh and led to a dispute over who should get how much water from the Yamuna River, which passes through Uttar Pradesh en route to New Delhi.