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Heat Wave in India Kills 1,000

May 22, 2002

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HYDERABAD, India (AP) _ More than 1,030 people have died in a heat wave in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, a relief official said Wednesday.

Winds from the northern deserts have pushed temperatures up along the coastal belt of Andhra Pradesh over the past two weeks, pushing the death toll past a thousand, said D.C. Roshaiah, the state’s relief commissioner.

Early monsoon rains brought a temporary cooling of some regions last week, but the coastal regions continued to suffer.

At least 172 deaths were reported from the coastal East Godavari district, where temperatures hovered above 109 degrees Wednesday, Roshaiah said.

In the port city of Kakinada, 355 miles east of Hyderabad, the state capital, the day’s highest temperature of 110.5 degrees was recorded.

Similar heat waves struck Andhra Pradesh in 1996 and 1998, but this year has been the worst, state weather officials said. Andrha Pradesh is the fifth-largest state in India, with 76 million people.

Health workers earlier had said the number of dead would have been higher had local officials not issued warnings and supplied extra drinking water to the poor.

Officials have set up a scientific committee to establish whether global warming was causing the heat wave. However, meteorologists blamed scorching desert winds from the northwest, saying that heat waves always precede the monsoon rains.

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