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  • 18 Jun, 2024

Heatwave triggers emergency alert in India as elections reach climax

Heatwave triggers emergency alert in India as elections reach climax

Temperatures are expected to exceed 47 degrees Celsius in some northern states over the next few days.

As voting is underway to elect the next government, a "red alert" has been issued for several states in northern India, where the country is suffering from a heatwave.

Temperatures are expected to exceed 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit) in the states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

At least nine people have died as April was the hottest on record in several parts of the country, according to Reuters. The average temperature in eastern India was 28.12 degrees Celsius, the warmest since records began in 1901.

Last year, the World Meteorological Organization warned that global temperatures could rise during the summer due to the El Niño phenomenon. India's heatwave has been cited by analysts as one of the reasons for low voter turnout in the first four of seven phases of the general election, which began on April 19. However, Monday's fifth phase of polling in 49 parliamentary constituencies showed a slight improvement, surpassing the number of votes recorded in the same constituencies in 2019. Meanwhile, India's Independent Election Commission said it had set up a working group to examine the heat wave and humidity and consider "progress and remedial measures" five days before each voting period.

In the next phase on May 25, voting will be held in 58 assembly constituencies across six states and two union territories, including Delhi. In the capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will take on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power at the legislative level. In the final stage on June 1, all eyes will be on the holy city of Varanasi, where Mr. Modi is seeking re-election. The results of the poll are expected to be announced on June 4th.