The 45°C heat wave sweeping across Bihar claimed at least 70 lives in the past 24 hours in three districts of the Magadh division, which includes Gaya, Aurangabad, Nawada, Arwal, and Jehanabad. There were 30 deaths in Aurangabad, 20 in Gaya, and 10 in Nawada, according to the regional health director Dr Vijay Kumar. In addition, there were 10 heat stroke cases of people brought dead at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH), Gaya, but those were not recorded officially at the hospital, said Dr Neeraj Kumar, from the hospital’s medicine department.
No heat stroke deaths have so far been reported from Jehanabad and Arwal so far, as per the divisional office of the health department. However, the overall division is seeing a number of people falling ill and cases are pouring into ANMMCH.
The district magistrates of all the five districts are on their toes, trying to ensure proper facilities at all the health centres, including at the lone medical college in Gaya. Aurangabad DM, Rahul Ranjan Mahiwal, while confirming 30 deaths so far, said that additional doctors had been deployed at all the primary health centres and at the Sadar hospital in the district, and all essential medicines were supplied to all the health centres.
DM Mahiwal said that more than 30 patients were still undergoing treatment at ANMMCH. Gaya DM Abhishek Kumar Singh visited ANMMCH and took stock of the situation. The DM directed the hospital authorities to ensure proper treatment of the heat-affected patients. Both the DMS are personally monitoring the situation.
Regional health director Dr Vijay Kumar, while giving details of the death toll, said that almost as many patients were under hospital treatment as the number that had died. He added that civil surgeons of the five districts were on alert and special teams of doctors had been constituted to cope with the situation.
In order to minimise heat stroke deaths, the Gaya and Aurangabad DMS have issued dos and don’ts for the people and advised them to avoid being out and about much during the day. The DMS have also ordered that all government and private schools remain closed, extending the summer vacation to June 19, in view of the heat wave and the risk to children.
The temperature in Gaya city on Sunday was recorded at 42°C at noon, and was likely to go up to 44°C, as per the weather office. On Saturday, the temperature was 45.2°C.
What has aggravated the situation is the acute water and power crisis in Gaya and adjoining districts, where the groundwater level is depleting alarmingly. Most of the water resources have dried up and the hand pumps are not of much help. The Gaya DM and the Gaya Municipal Corporation have organised water tankers at regular intervals for the affected colonies.