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India is used to searing summer temperatures, but the climate crisis is causing heatwaves to become longer, more frequent and more intense.

Authorities in the Indian capital, have ordered schools to shut early for the summer holiday, after temperatures in Delhi hit 47.4C (117F).

City officials told schools to shut with “immediate effect” due to the blistering heat, according to a government order quoted by the Hindustan Times on Tuesday, cutting the term by a few days.

India’s weather bureau has warned of “severe heatwave conditions” this week, reaching a peak of 47.4C in Delhi’s Najafgarh suburb on Monday – the hottest temperature countrywide. Authorities in other states – including Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan – have also ordered schools to close, India Today reported.

India is used to searing summer temperatures, but years of scientific research have found the climate crisis is causing heatwaves to become longer, more frequent and more intense. The Indian Meteorological Department warned of the impact of the heat on health, especially for infants, elderly people and those with chronic diseases.

In May 2022, parts of Delhi hit 49.2C (120.5F), Indian media reported at the time.

The next round of voting in India’s six-week-long election takes place on Saturday, including in Delhi. Turnout has dipped, with analysts suggesting the hotter-than-average weather is a factor – as well as the widespread expectation that the prime minister, Narendra Modi, will easily win a third term. India’s election commission has formed a taskforce to review the impact of heatwaves and humidity before each round of voting.

At the same time, India’s southern states including Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been lashed by heavy rains over the past few days. Severe storms hit other parts of the country last week, including the financial capital, Mumbai, where strong winds flattened a billboard that killed 16 people and left dozens more trapped.

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com

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