The death toll in Bihar rose to 139 on Wednesday as a scorching heatwave swept most parts of the state. The severe heat conditions have prompted the state government to order the closure of academic activities in all schools and colleges till June 22. According to last reports that came in, sixty people in Aurangabad, 41 in Gaya, 14 in Nalanda, 12 in Nawada, five in Munger, two each in Kaimur and Vaishali, and one each in Ara, Khagariya and Samastipur have died in the heat.
Major cities in the state, including Patna, Gaya and Bhagalpur, have been witnessing the heatwave for the past fortnight. As per the Patna Meteorological Centre, Patna, Gaya and Bhagalpur witnessed heatwave on Monday.
District Magistrate of Gaya, Abhishek Singh, on Monday, imposed Section 144 in district keeping in mind the prevailing heatwave condition. The DM office has advised people to remain indoors from 11 am till 4 pm. The district administration has also imposed a ban on the construction work from 11 am till 4 pm. The work under MNREGA programmes will not be done after 10:30 am and no meeting will be allowed in open spaces during this time.
Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on Monday visited the patients at Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College in Gaya and assured them of all necessary help from the state government's side.
Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the deaths and announced a compensation of four lakh to the kin of victims. The state government has also issued an alert advising people to avoid stepping outside from their homes and take care while stepping outside. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said the deaths are unfortunate and said that people must remain indoors till the temperature drops. "Intense heat affects the brain and leads to various health issues," he said.
Besides Bihar, many other North Indian states have been witnessing severe heatwave conditions for the last three-four weeks. The temperatures in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have remained over 46 degrees on a regular basis.
Patna and Gaya, which have been reeling under heatwave and loo for the past three days, recorded a high of 42.4 degrees Celsius each on Monday, the Patna Meteorological Centre said, adding that Bhagalpur and Purnea registered 41.6 and 36.0 degrees Celsius. Patna and Bhagalpur recorded six notches above their normal maximum temperature, while Gaya recorded five notches above the normal, it said.
A heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is recorded at 4.5 degrees or more above the normal for two consecutive days, a Met official said.