Deadly Heat Covers Northern India as Election Enters Last Leg

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Deadly heat is engulfing several northern Indian states, while the south is getting heavy pre-monsoon rains, posing health risks for hundreds of thousands of people participating in election rallies.

The India Meteorological Department warned Friday that some areas of Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh will face hot and humid weather for five days, with the maximum temperature surpassing 47C (117F). It also predicted “extremely heavy rainfall” in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The searing heat comes as the election in India, the world’s biggest democracy, nears a climax. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes to secure a third term when the results of a six-week long voting process are announced on June 4. Health risks are mounting as thousands of people attend political rallies with little protection from the heat.

Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of heat waves, cloud bursts, cyclones and droughts across India, the world’s most populous nation and a major producer of grains, sugar and cotton. Hundreds of people already die every year due to heat strokes, floods, lightning and landslides.

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The weather bureau said that maximum temperatures are likely to rise by as much as 3C in several areas of northwest India in the next two days, and climb by 2C to 4C at some places in central, eastern and western regions until Tuesday. Rains are forecast for Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Assam states.

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