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Indian diocese joins relief effort amid heatwave

At least 122 deaths reported in Rajasthan state as temperatures soared in northwest and central parts of country
Residents fill containers with water supplied by a municipal tanker in India's national capital New Delhi on May 30 amid an ongoing heatwave. India is enduring a crushing heatwave with temperatures in several cities sizzling well above 45 degrees Celsius

Residents fill containers with water supplied by a municipal tanker in India's national capital New Delhi on May 30 amid an ongoing heatwave. India is enduring a crushing heatwave with temperatures in several cities sizzling well above 45 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 31, 2024 10:51 AM GMT
Updated: May 31, 2024 11:14 AM GMT

A Catholic diocese in a northwestern Indian state has joined government agencies in providing relief to people reeling under severe heatwave conditions that have reportedly claimed over 120 lives.

Local media reported 122 deaths in Rajasthan state due to the extremely hot weather, with nearly half of those occurring between May 23 and May 30.

The India Meteorological Department issued a red alert on May 30 for Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Madhya Pradesh in the northwest and central parts of the country.

Experts cautioned against heat-related illnesses and suggested that state governments take adequate preventive measures to protect vulnerable people.

The mercury surpassed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rajasthan’s Churu town and neighboring Haryana’s Sirsa town.

A part of the national capital New Delhi recorded the country's highest-ever temperature: 52.9 degrees Celsius (127.22 degrees Fahrenheit).

“It is very disturbing to learn that so many people have lost their lives in the extreme weather conditions,” said Emeritus Bishop Oswald Joseph Lewis of Jaipur diocese in Rajasthan.

He told UCA News on May 31 that volunteers at the diocese’s social service wing are reaching out to people to help and guide them.

“Our people are going house to house to make people aware of the extreme weather conditions, suggesting precautions to be taken and giving them medicines,” the prelate said.

Lewis said most casualties were reported among daily wage laborers compelled to work under the hot sun.

“Our volunteers are providing them free lunch and water” to compensate for the lost daily wages, he added.

The prelate said theirs was a small effort to help the government agencies deal with the situation.

Shashi Dharan, the public relations officer of the Delhi Archdiocese, said they have made arrangements for drinking water outside churches in the national capital.

Father Reginald D’Souza, public relations officer of the Allahabad diocese, said that in view of the heat conditions, Masses were being held as early as 6.30 a.m. and other services in the evening at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan High Court has directed both the federal and state governments to compensate the families of those who died due to heatstroke.

Justice Anoop Dhand said governments must issue a special advisory regarding the heat wave and provide water and shade facilities in public places.

The Meteorological Department said the temperatures in northwestern and central parts of India will fall in the coming days.

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