People in northern India are struggling with an unrelenting, weeks-long heatwave, with temperature in India’s capital soaring to a national record-high of 52.3 degrees Celsius (126.1 Fahrenheit), the government’s weather bureau said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), which reported “severe heatwave conditions”, recorded the temperature in the New Delhi suburb of Mungeshpur on Wednesday afternoon, smashing the previous national record in the desert of Rajasthan by more than one degree Celsius.

Rajasthan’s Phalodi town previously held the all-time heat record, hitting 51C (124F) in 2016. India declares a heatwave whenever temperatures are above 45C (113 F).


The brutal weather has forced schools to close in several cities and raised the risk of heatstrokes for people working outdoors. The extreme heat also coincides with a six-week general election, increasing health risks as people wait in long lines to cast their vote. The voting ends on Saturday.

The sizzling temperatures are also taking a toll on animals, putting them at risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Sitaram, an animal conservationist in the city of Bikaner in Rajasthan who goes by one name, said endangered chinkaras — also known as Indian gazelle — are facing a water shortage.

April, May and June are hot in most parts of India before monsoon rains bring cooler temperatures. But extreme heat is fast becoming a public health crisis in India, with the warm weather getting more intense in the past decade and typically accompanied by severe water shortages.

Tens of millions of India’s 1.4 billion people lack running water. New Delhi authorities have also warned of the risk of water shortages as the capital swelters in headache-inducing heat – cutting supplies to some areas.


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