An unprecedented heat wave. Since late April, entire swaths of India and Pakistan have been experiencing a historic heat wave. These abnormally high temperatures persist, while the month of May – which corresponds to the hot dry season in these regions – is already usually the hottest month in these most densely populated South Asian regions of the world.
In the southern part of Pakistan, 51 degrees were reached in Jacobabad. Is “the highest temperature of 2022 in the world”signals a tweet relayed by Etienne Kapikian, forecaster at Météo France. In India, the thermometer could rise to 46 degrees in New Delhi on Sunday May 15, according to forecasts, as in most of the north-west of the country, before an expected improvement with the arrival of the monsoon. Franceinfo returns in images to the consequences of this extreme heat.
In Karachi, workers sleep outside to cool down
In the big Pakistani port city of Karachi, to find a bit of coolness at night, workers sleep outside, on mattresses placed on the ground on the central reservation between two roads.
The southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital, is particularly hard hit by rising temperatures. The mercury soared to more than 50°C in Jacobabad on Friday, the Pakistan Meteorological Service (PMD) said. Nationally, temperatures are between 6 and 9°C. “above normal”, underlined the PMD. The thermometer showed Friday around 40 ° C in the capital, Islamabad, and the other major cities of Karachi (in the south), Lahore (in the east) and Peshawar (in the northwest).
A bridge swept away by a dazzling flood
Heatwave triggered Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in Gilgit Baltistan destroying agricultural land, the Hassan Abad bridge & sweeping houses along. Pakistan meteorological department forecasts more GLOF events in the northern areas particularly in Chitral. #ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/O56NHKCMI7
— Iftikhar Firdous (@IftikharFirdous) May 7, 2022
In northern Pakistan, rising temperatures have caused a glacial lake to melt. The dike broke, releasing waves that tumbled down the slope and swept away everything in their path. In the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, on the mountain road connecting the region to western China, the bridge in the village of Hassanabad collapsed.
According to Pakistan’s Minister of Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, 33 of the country’s 7,000 glacial lakes are at risk of overflowing. The heat wave is, according to her, the “direct consequence of climatic stress”.
In New Delhi, residents are looking for the slightest gray area
The inhabitants of the Indian capital are on the lookout for the slightest gray area, in order to escape the crushing heat which is beating down on New Delhi, where 44 degrees have been reached. Some rest under a bridge that spans the bed of the Yamuna River.
Earlier this week, in neighboring Pakistan, the government called on residents of Lahore to stay in the shade “during the hottest hours of the day”.
People mobilized to refresh passers-by in Karachi
Under a blazing sun that hits the streets of Karachi, people dressed in fluorescent jackets are on a mission to cool workers and passers-by. Pakistani and Indian authorities have warned their fellow citizens against the health risks of high heat.
Water shortages in India and Pakistan
In India, the record heat wave leads to water shortages. Millions of people are affected. Distributions are improvised, as here outside this temple, located in the old districts of Delhi.
In Pakistan, the flow of the Indus River has been reduced by 65% this year “due to the lack of rain and snow”according to the spokesman of the Department of Irrigation in Punjab, Adnan Hassan. Its basin provides 90% of Pakistan’s water supply, according to the UN. Lack of water could also affect crops. “There is a real risk of a shortage of food and crops this year in the country, if this lack of water is to persist”warned Adnan Hassan.
Power cuts due to air conditioners
The exceptionally hot months of March and April drove up electricity consumption in both India and Pakistan, particularly to power power-hungry air conditioners. Power plants are now running out of coal to meet demand.
Several Pakistani cities had to suffer up to eight hours of power cuts a day. “The situation across India is dire”lamented the chief minister of New Delhi, who warned that power cuts in hospitals and the metro in the capital were possible, reports RTS.
The cows run away from the heat…
In Pakistan, in the city of Larkana, these cows cool off in a basin to withstand the heat wave. The Pakistani press reported that in the east of the country, sheep had died of sunstroke and dehydration in the Cholistan desert in Punjab, the most populous province and the breadbasket of Pakistan.
…And the birds fall from the sky
In India, dehydrated birds fall from the sky and remain inert on the ground under the sun. In Ahmedabad, a city in the west of the country, “at least 50 to 60 birds” are cared for “daily” at the Jivdaya Trust Veterinary Hospital, testifies at the Parisian Gira Shah, co-founder of the hospital.
According to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), this record heat wave is “consistent” with climate change.