India staring at longest heatwave in 3 decades (48c or 118.4f)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India staring at longest heatwave in 3 decades, monsoon relief unlikely soon

The Capital, which sweltered on its hottest June day in history on Monday (48 degrees Celsius) recorded as maximum temperature of 45.4 degrees Celsius at Palam in spite of a spell of light rain in the morning.

INDIA Updated: Jun 12, 2019 11:10 IST

Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
heatwave,heatwave conditions,longest heatwave
Noida, India – June 10, 2019: Boys on a two-wheeler cover themselves with a cloth to beat the heat on a summer day, in Noida, India, on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Photo by / Hindustan Times)(Sunil Ghosh /HT Photo/Representative Image )

Nearly two-thirds of India sizzled on Tuesday under a spell of a heatwave that is on course to becoming the longest ever as scalding temperatures killed four train passengers, drained water supplies, and drove thousands of tourists to hill stations already bursting at the seams.

Across large swathes of northern, central and peninsular India, the mercury breached the 45 degree mark, including in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Churu and Bikaner in Rajasthan, Hisar and Bhiwani in Haryana, Patiala in Punjab, and Gwalior and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

The Capital, which sweltered on its hottest June day in history on Monday (48 degrees Celsius) recorded as maximum temperature of 45.4 degrees Celsius at Palam in spite of a spell of light rain in the morning.

Experts warned that monsoon relief was still some time away with the severe cyclonic storm, Vayu, barrelling towards the Gujarat coast and drawing rain clouds from over the sea.

With a heatwave spell stretching 32 days, 2019 has already seen the second-longest spell of scorching temperature ever recorded. If the mercury doesn’t dramatically drop in the next two days, 2019 will become the year with the longest heatwave spell in recorded history — with three weeks to go in June.

In 1988, there were 33 such days, and in 2016, there were 32 such days. A heatwave is defined as when the maximum temperature is at least 40 degree C (plains) and 30 degree C (hills), according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Also Read | In scorching sun, UP villages without a drop to drink

The searing heat is already leaving people withered. Four elderly passengers on board the Kerala Express died apparently of suffocation and heat at Jhansi, where the mercury has hovered around the 45 degree mark since the beginning of the month. The four people, three of whom died on Monday evening, were part of a 67-member group returning to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu after visiting Agra and were travelling in non-AC sleeper coaches.

“A team of doctors examined them on board the train at Jhansi; three of them had passed away by then and one passenger was rushed to hospital [who died on Tuesday],” said railway spokesperson Manoj Kumar Singh. He said the cause of death appeared to be heat but the exact cause would be known after a post-mortem examination.

The blazing heatwave is in line with predictions made by a number of scientific studies based on IMD data that show that the intensity of heatwaves is rising. DS Pai, a scientist at IMD, Pune, said their study of long-term heatwave data of 35 meteorological subdivisions showed a threefold increase in heatwaves every year since 1991. “Our observation indicates that the increase was steeper in the last two decades,” he said.

An Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune study added that another impact of long spells of heat was an increase in the number of hot days and nights. An analysis of daily maximum and minimum temperatures of 121 IMD stations distributed across India between 1970 and 2015 showed the frequency of hot days and nights showed a big jump whereas that of cold days and nights dropped sharply. “With climate change, the frequency and intensity of heat waves in India will increase,” S Krishnan, a senior scientist at IITM, said.

In its heatwave bulletins, IMD has pointed out that this year’s hot spell has been amplified by the absence of pre-monsoon showers, the presence of hot and dry winds from western dry zones. However, the heatwave spell is likely to cool down this weekend, the IMD heat forecast on Tuesday said.

In major cities across northern India, the demand for power and water surged even as many sources of water – such as rivers and reservoirs – ran dry. The peak power demand in Delhi broke all records of this season on Monday and touched a high of 6,686 MW, reported the discoms. In the hinterlands, where there are often no secondary sources of water such as tanks and pipes, the situation is worse.

In Sonbhadra district on the eastern tip of Uttar Pradesh, for example, the scorching sun has forced many villagers to dig pits in the riverbed and wait for groundwater to ooze out. As the temperatures rise, the pits will go dry and villagers will have to trek kilometres for a pot of water. Hand pumps often don’t work in these regions because in many pockets, the water level has dipped below 300 feet.

The sweltering heat has driven tens of thousands of people into hill stations that are ill-equipped to handle a rush of such magnitude. Uttarakhand’s Nainital has seen an average of 15,000 to 20,000 tourists arrive daily in a city with a capacity of just 8,000 rooms. Mussoorie, which has 2,000 rooms, has seen 190,030 tourists flood the town since May.

As many as 15,000 vehicles have entered Manali and Shimla on weekends this month, translating to roughly 60,000 people — about a third of the population of these towns. The tourist influx is repeatedly choking all approach roads to the small Himalayan hill stations and causing massive traffic snarls in the mountains. Moreover, the hills have received no respite from the blistering sun — Monday’s maximum temperature for Mussoorie was six degrees above normal at 30.5 degrees Celsius while Dharamsala recording a maximum of 33.8 degrees Celsius.

First Published: Jun 12, 2019 07:16 IST

Pakistan: Fuel Truck Wrecks Then Explodes: At Least 135 Dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Karachi (CNN) A devastating accident involving an exploding oil tanker has left at least 135 people dead in eastern Pakistan, according to the country’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.

Smoke billowed from the truck which fell off the road Sunday as it traveled through the city of Bahawalpur, Mohammad Akhtar, a police official, told CNN.
According to Akhtar, the explosion came as villagers began to gather around the truck in an attempt to collect oil in containers.
Oil tanker truck explosion
The blast has left at least 130 people injured and a state of emergency has been declared in the city, Punjab government spokesman Salman Sufi said.
Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital said it was treating 40 of the injured, all of whom have suffered 70% burns.

Pakistani paramedics bring a burns victim injured after an oil tanker caught fire.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of Pakistan’s military, said a total of 51 people with serious burns and in critical condition have been transported by army helicopters to the city of Multan.
It added that the road had been reopened and that traffic had begun to flow again.

‘Deep grief’

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif “expressed deep grief over the heavy loss of life.”
“The Prime Minister has directed provincial government to provide full medical assistance to the injured with burns,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said. “The Prime Minister has expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for the departed souls.”
Chief Minister of Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has said an inquiry would be held into the incident.
Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, tweeted that the blaze was “a national tragedy of epic proportions.”
The politician and former cricketer said he had asked local leadership to assess what assistance could be provided to the injured and victims’ families.
The US Embassy in Islamabad tweeted its condolences. “We are so saddened to hear of the terrible oil tanker accident in #Bahawalpur. Our deep condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims,” it said.

Kansas Shooter’s Actions Cannot And Do Not Speak For How Vast Majority Of Americans Believe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Kansas shooter’s actions cannot and do not speak for US

WORLD Updated: Feb 26, 2017 07:05 IST

Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington

Kansas

Srinivas Kuchibhotla (right) with his wife Sunayana Dumala in Iowa. Kuchibhotla was shot at a bar in Olathe, Kansas.(AP File)

Sri Srinivasan’s family moved to Kansas when he was only four. He grew up a basketball fanatic, going to the same high school as a future star of the sport. And eventually went on to become the first Indian-American judge of a court of appeals, roughly like India’s high court, and was a top contender for a vacancy that fell open on the US supreme court bench in 2016, which would have been historic in many ways — as the first Indian-American, the first Asian-American and the first Hindu American named justice to the highest court in the country.Judge Srinivasan, as he is called, grew up in Lawrence, a 30-minute drive from Olathe, where an apparently inebriated US navy veteran killed Srinivas Kuchibotla, an IT engineer from Hyderabad, past Wednesday mistaking him for a Middle-Easterner, and telling him to “get out of my country”. Investigators are still trying to determine the exact motives of the shooter, Adam Purinton, but he will not be the first American to feel that way about people from the Middle-East, specially after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

But does the shooting make the United States less of a destination for anyone with dreams of making it big as Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO from Hyderabad, Sunder Pichai, Google CEO from further south Chennai, or Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems from Delhi? Less safe? After all, how could a drink at a bar with a colleague after work end so badly?

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Is President Donald Trump’s America any less safe? While condemning the killings, the White House has dismissed any links to the president’s rhetorics as has been suggested by some, but there are worries and concerns arising out of a surge in ethnic, religious and racial tensions in the aftermath of his election.

But Purinton cannot, and does not speak for Kansas or the United States. Judge Srinivasan has never complained about racial slights he or his family might have faced growing up in Kansas and local news publications had covered his elevation to the appeals court and his possible move to the Supreme Court with unrestrained pride.

Adam Purinton of Olathe, Kansas, who shot Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla. (REUTERS)

He was one of them, and they wanted to celebrate his achievements as they would of anyone else. He might have, as all immigrants, faced stereotyping — Indians are mocked, often by Indian comics — for nodding their head excessively as they listen; their accent, and they may have all faced one time or another intended or unintended slights.

Things can get worse, and have gotten worse for some. Balbir Singh Sandhu, an immigrant from Punjab, became the first victim of the backlash after the September 9, 2001, terrorist attack. He was shot dead at his gas station in Arizona by a man who mistook him for a Middle-Easterner. Six men and women were gunned down by a white supremacist an attack on a Wisconsin gurudwara in 2013. But Sandhu’s relatives chose to stay, and so have those of Wisconsin victims.

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And it may not be pointed out to those feeling uncertain, don’t forget Ian Gillort, the Kansas man who was shot by Purinton trying to save Kuchibotla and his colleague Alok Madasani. “No, it’s not like that,” Grillot said in a vide about being hailed as a hero. “I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he was from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans. I just felt I did what was naturally right to do.” His sister has said he wishes he could have done more.

It is reasonable to feel unsafe and insecure after every such incident, but, as a young immigrant from India, said Friday, “People back home must realize the US is no less safe today than it was yesterday or the day before, or tomorrow.”