Temperatures in Indian state hit 51 deg C

NEW DELHI • Temperatures have soared to a scorching 51 deg C in an Indian city in the desert state of Rajasthan, meteorologists said yesterday, setting a new national record.

Northern Phalodi wilted as the mercury reached a new high, beating a 60-year-old record. "Yesterday was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country... 51 deg (C) in Phalodi," said Mr B.P. Yadav, a director of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Hundreds of people die every year from the heat in India. The latest record high came as the IMD issued warnings of "severe heatwave" conditions across large parts of India's north and west, including the capital Delhi, where temperatures hit 47 deg C earlier this week.

Demand for electricity in the city of 25 million people surged to a record high on Thursday as sweltering residents turned on their air-conditioners. Its hospitals have seen a spike in cases of heatstroke, and the authorities in many states have ordered schools to break for summer earlier than normal.

Temperatures in northern India regularly hit the high 40s in May and June, but topping 50 degrees is unusual. India declares a heatwave when the maximum temperature reaches 45 deg C, or five degrees higher than the average for the area in previous years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'Temperatures in Indian state hit 51 deg C'. Print Edition | Subscribe