India heat wave kills 2,330 people as millions wait for rain

Updated 12:17 AM EDT, Tue June 2, 2015
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An Indian man wipes sweat off his face on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Heat wave has tightened its grip over most parts of the country. More than 200 people have died since mid-April in a heat wave sweeping two southeast Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, officials said Saturday. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
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An Indian man wipes sweat off his face on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Heat wave has tightened its grip over most parts of the country. More than 200 people have died since mid-April in a heat wave sweeping two southeast Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, officials said Saturday. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
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An Indian man rests under a transport vehicle on the outskirts of Hyderabad on May 25, 2015. More than 430 people have died in two Indian states from a days-long heatwave that has seen temperatures nudging 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), officials said May 25. Officials warned the toll was almost certain to rise, with figures still being collected in some parts of the hard-hit Telangana state in the south of the country, and with no end in sight to the searing conditions. AFPHOTO/ Noah SEELAMNOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images
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Heat wave claims hundreds of lives in India

Story highlights

2,330 people have died in three Indian states

Temperatures have dipped from last week's highs

Monsoon rains are predicted to arrive around June 5

Affected by the heat in India? Send us your experiences.

CNN —  

The heat wave gripping India has killed 2,330 people, officials announced on Tuesday, as meteorologists warned that monsoon rains could still be days away.

The worst-hit state was Andhra Pradesh on the country’s southeast coast, where 42 people have died in the past 24 hours. The total toll in that state is now 1,719, according to K. Dhananjaya Reddy, director of the state’s disaster management.

At least 585 have died in the neighboring landlocked state of Telangana, and 26 in Odisha, farther north.

Temperatures hit a high of 48 degrees Celsius in some cities last week – that’s 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s been cooler in recent days, but officials are only now determining how many people succumbed to last week’s unusually hot weather.

On Monday, the country’s highest maximum temperature – of 45.4 C or 113.7 F – was recorded at Daltongan in Jharkhand state. Heat wave conditions remain in isolated areas of that state, as well as some areas of Bihar.

Elsewhere, thunderstorms have cooled several parts of India, including coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh.

Monsoon rains had been forecast to hit the country’s southern coast on June 1, but forecasters say they’re not likely to arrive until Friday.

According to an official statement from the India Meteorological Department, “persistence of convection indicates that conditions are becoming favorable for the onset of southwest monsoon over Kerala around 5th June.”

A week ago, it was hot enough in Delhi, in the north, to melt roads.

A road melts near Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on May 24.
Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times/Getty Images
A road melts near Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on May 24.

People are trying to stay cool in whatever way they can. The government is urging residents to use an umbrella, hat or turban to protect themselves from the sun – and drink plenty of water.

“Cover properly, have light-color clothes, take umbrella, take care, be in cool area,” said B.R. Meena, the chief secretary of Telangana. He also urged residents to stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Meena said if the heat wave victims “had they taken such care, this could have been avoided.”

Many of those who have succumbed to heat are poorer members of society and the homeless who had nowhere to go.

Throughout Hyderabad, water camps opened, providing free water to anyone who needed a drink.

The poor and ill affected most

Temperatures dipped at night, but even then it was uncomfortably hot. On Wednesday night last week, men slept on footpaths and on concrete strips between roads in temperatures of up to 37 C, or 98.6 F.

Two old men were seen sleeping under a flyover, as cars sped by spewing even hotter, polluted air in their direction. Construction workers stretched out on top of huge steel pipes.

Men sleep on concrete road dividers during a heat wave in Delhi on May 27.
Omar Khan/CNN
Men sleep on concrete road dividers during a heat wave in Delhi on May 27.

Construction workers asleep in the Delhi heat on May 27.
Omar Khan/CNN
Construction workers asleep in the Delhi heat on May 27.

What’s behind the heat wave and when will it end?

CNN’s Mallika Kapur reported from Hyderabad, and Hilary Whiteman wrote from Hong Kong. CNN’s Harmeet Shah Singh, Sugam Pokharel, Omar Khan and Rishabh Pratap also contributed to this report.