More than 622 people have died in a heat wave in southern India during the past week.Temperatures soared to 120 degrees F near the Bay of Bengal.
It has been an abnormally hot May in southern India, with dry winds blowing from the northwestern deserts much earlier than usual. Temperatures have been 7% higher than normal for the month. The state's weather officials say it is simply due to wind patterns, not global warming.
However, the government has ordered a scientific committee to examine the causes of the heat wave, which has killed mostly the elderly, weak, and laborers who have to work in the heat, such as farm workers, rickshaw pullers and village cleaners.
"I have seen many summers but nothing like this year," says Bheemudu, 44, a rickshaw puller in Vijaywada. "When the hot wind hit my face, I felt as if I was set on fire. Even nights were unbearably hot."
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