South Asia faces extreme weather with heatwave in India, cyclone in Bangladesh

Published May 24, 2024
A woman suffering from heat exhaustion is wheeled into a hospital for treatment during a heatwave in Ahmedabad, India on May 24. — Reuters
A woman suffering from heat exhaustion is wheeled into a hospital for treatment during a heatwave in Ahmedabad, India on May 24. — Reuters

South Asia is experiencing extreme weather conditions, with at least nine killed due to a suspected heat wave in India’s west, while parts of Bangladesh and neighbouring states are likely to be hit by a cyclone in a couple of days.

Extreme temperatures throughout Asia last month were made worse, most likely as a result of human-driven climate change, a team of international scientists said.

India’s summer temperatures often peak in May, but scientists have predicted more heatwave days than usual this year, largely caused by fewer non-monsoon thundershowers and an active but weakening dry El Nino weather phenomenon.

At least nine deaths in Rajasthan in India’s west were suspected to have resulted from people falling sick in the sweltering heat, local media said. The state’s disaster management officials told Reuters that they had yet to ascertain the cause, as medical examinations were incomplete.

The news comes after the city of Barmer in Rajasthan topped temperature charts this week with a record 48.8 degree Celsius on Thursday.

Weather officials have warned of conditions ranging from a heatwave to severe heatwave in many parts of the state, as well as in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

Indian weather officials set the heatwave threshold at a maximum temperature of 40°C in the plains, a departure of at least 4.5°C from the normal maximum temperature.

In Pakistan, the climate change ministry said about 26 districts were boiling under a severe heatwave as of Thursday, with the current spell of sizzling temperatures likely to last until May 30.

The temperature is expected to hit 50°C in at least two cities in Sindh on Friday, which has already delayed annual school exams due to the blistering heat.

Cyclone in Bangladesh

In striking contrast, Bangladesh and parts of West Bengal in eastern India are expected to be hit by “severe cyclonic storm” Remal on Sunday, IMD has predicted.

In Kerala in southern India, at least seven people died this week following pre-monsoon rains that were about 18 per cent heavier than normal, bringing floods that disrupted flight schedules in some areas.

With a red alert issued by the weather department, Kerala is likely to be lashed with very heavy to extremely heavy rain on Friday too.

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