An Indian vendor sells hats to vistors at India Gate in New Delhi on May 1, 2009. With the Indian capital reeling under an intense heat wave, the city government has asked schools to declare their summer vacations from May 2. Delhi has been experiencing a severe heat wave as the temperature rose to 43.5 degrees Celsius on April 29, the highest for the month of April in last 50 years. -AFP Photo/Manpreet Romana

NEW DELHI At least 18 people have died in a scorching heat wave that has swept through more than a dozen Indian states, the weather department and officials said Friday.

The highest temperature of about 118 47.5 Celsius was recorded Thursday at Khandua in the central Madhya Pradesh state.

The heat wave has hit the western state of Rajasthan, the northern state of Uttarakhand and at least a dozen other states, the India Meteorological Department said.

Authorities have confirmed at least 18 people died from heat stroke in the eastern state of Orissa, according to Manoranjan Choudhary, an official at the state revenue department, which monitors heat-related deaths. Thirty-six other suspected heat wave deaths are being investigated, he added.

The meteorological department said the sweltering conditions are likely to continue for at least two more days.

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