Heatwave kills 33 polling staff as India battles record temperatures

Northern states gripped by heatwave as people collapse at polling stations

Polling officials arrive to deliver electronic voting machines in Varanasi. AFP
Powered by automated translation

More than 30 Indian polling staff died of heatstroke in a northern state on the last day of voting, a senior elections official said on Sunday, days after the hottest temperatures on record in New Delhi.

Security guards and sanitation workers were among the 33 killed in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, where temperatures reached almost 47ºC, AFP quoted state chief electoral officer Navdeep Rinwa as saying.

The families of the deceased will receive compensation amounting to $18,000, Mr Rinwa added.

One person also died after collapsing while queuing at a polling station, according to the official.

More than 50 people died and hundreds were admitted to Uttar Pradesh hospitals last summer after temperatures reached 43ºC.

The latest deaths came days after New Delhi recorded its highest temperature yet of 52.3°C at Mungeshpur weather station.

At least one person died in the capital last week as temperatures hit records for several days in a row, with residents telling The National of “intolerable” heat.

Several parts of the country have been gripped by an intense heatwave in the past week, with temperatures exceeding 50ºC in Rajasthan and Haryana states.

Climate change and the rapid expansion of India's urban areas are both contributing factors, according to experts.

Deaths have also been reported in Odisha and Jharkhand, the Times of India reported, where authorities have advised people to stay inside.

At least 19 people have died in Bihar state, which borders Uttar Pradesh, it added, while other media outlets reported three heat-related deaths in Jaipur last week.

The heatwave has resulted in water shortages in the capital, where judges also postponed court cases because of soaring temperatures.

Authorities have called for measures to protect construction workers from the heat.

Municipal authorities have also warned measures will be taken against people wasting water.

Updated: June 03, 2024, 8:05 AM