Heatwave 2022 - live: Millions at risk in India and Pakistan as temperature soars past 44C

·8-min read
An Indian rikshaw puller works during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, eastern India, 19 April 2022 (EPA)
An Indian rikshaw puller works during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, eastern India, 19 April 2022 (EPA)

India and Pakistan are bracing for a worsening and potentially deadly heatwave as temperatures in large parts of the south Asian subcontinent crossed 44 degrees Celsius.

The rising temperature also drew concerns from the Indian prime minister, who warned against the increased risk of fires.

“Temperatures are rising rapidly in the country, and rising much earlier than usual,” Narendra Modi told heads of India’s state governments in an online conference.

An unusually early heatwave has already brought extreme temperatures to a large swath of India’s northwest this month, with the country recording the hottest March in last 122 years.

There is no relief in sight, as further extreme heat is forecast to hit parts of the country, as well as parts of Pakistan, later this week.

07:47 , Namita Singh

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s weather liveblog for 28 April 2022 where we provide daily updates on the heatwave sweeping through the south Asian subcontinent.

Modi warns against risk of fire as India burns at 44C

08:29 , Namita Singh

As extreme heat swept across large parts of India, prime minister Narendra Modi warned the countrymen against the increased risk of fire.

“Temperatures are rising rapidly in the country, and rising much earlier than usual,” Mr Modi told heads of India’s state governments in an online conference.

More than a billion people are at risk of heat-related health effects, scientists as the temperatures in Delhi soared past 40C and are forecast to linger around 44C until Sunday, with peak summer heat still to come before cooling monsoon rains arrive in June.

Indian rikshaw pullers wait during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, eastern India, 19 April 2022 (EPA)
Indian rikshaw pullers wait during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, eastern India, 19 April 2022 (EPA)

Massive fire engulfs landfill in Delhi

08:47 , Namita Singh

A massive fire engulfed one of the capital’s mountainous rubbish dumps on Tuesday as the temperature soared past 40C.

The authorities are struggling to douse the fire at the sprawling Bhalswa site to the north of the capital — one of three mega-landfills servicing the city— creating hazardous conditions for workers who had begun the dangerous process of salvaging garbage from the fire.

Officials say that the landfill caught fire after the highly combustible methane gas generating from the decaying organic waste spontaneously ignited.

“As the temperature rises, so does the amount of methane gas generated,” explains Aarti Khosla, the director of Climate Trends, an NGO working on environmental issues.

“It is a natural process and has happened before. But because right now the temperatures are very high in Delhi, yesterday’s accident was precipitated by that.”

Read the details in this report:

Massive landfill on fire in Delhi as India and Pakistan hit by deadly heatwave

Temperatures to soar up to 48-49C in Pakistan and 46-47C in India, predict experts

09:13 , Namita Singh

India and Pakistan are bracing for a potentially “deadly” heatwave with experts predicting the temperatures to soar up to 46-47C in India and touching 50C in Pakistan.

“Unfortunately for Indians and Pakistanis the extreme heat is not over and it will just get worse in few days,” Climatologist Maximiliano Herrera, who keeps track of extreme weather around the world, tweeted. “An incoming potentially deadly heatwave will see the temperatures soaring up to 48-49C in Pakistan and 46-47C in India.”

India’s Meteorological Department said heatwave conditions are very likely to happen in Gujarat state and east India over the next 4 to 5 days, and would hit central and northwest India from Wednesday. One forecaster estimated that temperatures could rise to 50 degrees celsius in Jacoband, Pakistan - some 11 degrees higher than the average for April.

The Indian capital, New Delhi, could reach 44 degrees celsius - around 6 degrees hotter than normal.

My colleague Saphora Smith reports:

India’s heatwave compared to start of climate disaster novel

09:27 , Namita Singh

Bhalswa landfill site in Delhi engulfed in a major fire as the city reels from deadly heatwave.

‘Heatwaves are becoming more likely and intense due to global heating

09:31 , Namita Singh

Climate scientists have found that heatwaves are becoming more likely and more intense due to global heating.

“There is mounting evidence that heatwaves are increasing in intensity and frequency in India and across the world due to the rise in global mean surface temperature,” said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

These heatwave conditions are known to kill hundreds of people in India every year and will continue to become more extreme until the world cuts its annual emissions of greenhouse gases effectively to zero.

Bob Ward

‘North India may get slight relief from heatwave in early May’

10:21 , Namita Singh

Parts of northern Indian may get relief from the ongoing heatwave in early May, according to a tweet by independent forecaster Mahesh Palawat.

Mr Palawat, the vice president of meteorology and climate change at SkymetWeather, shared his forecast on Twitter.“Relief from ongoing heat wave is expected by May 4th,” he wrote.

“Premonsoon, dust storm, thunderstorm and rain is possible between May 4 and 7. Mostly during late afternoon/evening over Punjab, Haryana, Delhi & west UP.”

India’s weather department announces heatwave warning in five states

11:00 , Namita Singh

The weather department in India has announced a heatwave warning in at least five states as several parts of the country reported temperatures reaching 45C.

“Rise by about 2C in maximum temperatures very likely over most parts of Northwest India during next three days and fall by about 2C thereafter,” the warning issued, meaning the mercury could hit 47C in places.

An Indian rikshaw puller waits during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, eastern India, 19 April 2022 (EPA)
An Indian rikshaw puller waits during a hot afternoon in Kolkata, eastern India, 19 April 2022 (EPA)

A heatwave warning has been announced for the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, UP and Odisha, along with the national capital, New Delhi.

Industrial activities in India affected amid rising demand for power

11:15 , Namita Singh

Industrial activities in several Indian states were affected as they observed long hours of power cuts amid surging power demand during the heatwave.

India’s northwestern Rajasthan state scheduled four hours of power cuts for factories as well as rural areas around them, exposing thousands of families in the desert state to extreme temperatures without the power for cooling solutions such as fans or AC.

The western state of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh in the south also restricted industrial activity this month as air conditioning demand peaked and economic activity picked up following an end to coronavirus-related restrictions.

A girl selling water, uses an umbrella to protect herself from the sun as she waits for customers, on a hot summer day, in New Delhi, India, 27 April 2022 (REUTERS)
A girl selling water, uses an umbrella to protect herself from the sun as she waits for customers, on a hot summer day, in New Delhi, India, 27 April 2022 (REUTERS)

A rapid rise in power demand has left India scrambling for coal, the dominant fuel used in electricity generation. Coal inventories are at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years and electricity demand is seen rising at the fastest pace in nearly four decades.

A train shortage is exacerbating the crisis, with India’s power secretary telling a court-ordained meeting this week that train availability was 6 per cent lower than required.

‘No need to panic,’ says India’s coal minister

11:30 , Namita Singh

While the rapid rise in power demand for cooling in India has exacerbated what was already a coal shortage, the country’s minister for coal and mines has said there is “no need to panic”.

The central government is monitoring the situation on a “day-to-day [and] hourly basis,” said Pralhad Joshi.

The country has enough coal stock. The thermal power plants have more than 9 day’s coal stock… the situation is reviewed each day.

Pralhad Joshi

The statement comes even as Maharashtra’s power minister told NDTV that the key thermal power plants in the state housing the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, are likely to run out of coal in less than two days.

Weather agency issues yellow alert in Delhi

12:31 , Namita Singh

The Indian meteorological department has issued a yellow alert in Delhi as the residents endured sweltering heat.

Warning against the heatwave, the weather agency cautioned that it could lead to “moderate” health concerns for vulnerable people.

“Hence people of these regions should avoid heat exposure, wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, cotton clothes and cover the head by use of cloth, hat or umbrella etc,” it said.

‘Respite from heatwave after five days’

12:56 , Namita Singh

The Indian meteorological department on Thursday said that the north and central India will get some respite from the heatwave after five days.

“Heatwave conditions over northwest and central India during next 5 days and over east India during next 3 days and abate thereafter. Rain/thunderstorm accompanied with lightning/gusty winds likely to continue over northeast India,” it tweeted.

Pakistan issues heatwave alert to all provinces

14:00 , Namita Singh

Pakistan’s ministry of climate change on Thursday issued a heatwave alert to all provinces in the country.

Announcing that South Asia will be facing a severe heatwave this year, minister for climate change Sherry Rehman said: “Pakistan has been facing an unexpected heatwave since March. Temperatures in the border areas of Pakistan and India are expected to rise to 49 to 50C.

“In March alone, rainfall was recorded at 62 per cent less than normal,” she said, as she elaborated on the impact of the intense heat.

“In the year 2018, Nawabshah became the hottest city in the world in the month of April when the mercury went above 50C.”

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