The labourers and drivers, the daily wagers and the homeless, appear to be the chief prey of the relentless heat wave that's sweeping through the country. In scorching Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, almost 1,400 people have died in the last two weeks.
The number of deaths in Andhra Pradesh is 1,020 and in Telangana it has gone up to 340 -- with Nalgonda at 99, Khammam at 72 and Karimnagar at 45.
But despite the huge number of deaths, the two states are yet to officially recognize the heat wave as a natural disaster and little has been done to provide relief to people beyond the issuance of a general advisory.
Latha, a construction worker, said she had not heard of the state government's advice to stay home during the hottest part of the day. Even if she did, it would not have been possible to stay home, she said. "We earn around Rs 250 a day. If I don't work, how will we survive?" she said.
At the Neredmet crematorium in Hyderabad, 18-year-old Shiva performed the last rites of his father Yadagiri today. Yadagiri, 40, an auto rickshaw driver, had worked all day yesterday. He returned home exhausted, and collapsed before he could be taken to a hospital. He was the only earning member in a family of six.
"I too, drive an auto rickshaw. To survive, we have no other option but to work even during the hot afternoons,'' said his friend Prabhakar, who was present for the last rites.
The weather office says some respite can be expected soon as the direction of the hot and dry northwesterly winds is changing. But, "We are expecting the 44-45 degrees to continue for a couple of days, specially in Andhra Pradesh,'' said YK Reddy, Director, Indian Meteorological Office.
In Telangana, by evening some pockets in Mahbubnagar and Khammam had reported some showers. These are isolated instances where the temperatures came down.
The grip of the heat wave, though, seemed to have loosened slightly over Delhi, where the mercury dropped for the first time in days - coming to rest at 41 degrees Celsius from 44 degrees and above.
The temperature is hovering between 45 and 47 in Rajasthan and Odisha. Sweltering conditions also prevail in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal - with the temperature hovering around 45 degrees Celsius.
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