India heatstroke: 13 people die after attending government award ceremony
New Delhi, India
At least 13 people have died from heatstroke in India’s western Maharashtra state after attending a state award ceremony on Sunday at which a senior government official was present, police officials have confirmed.
In Navi Mumbai, the city where the ceremony was held, between 50 to 60 people were hospitalized, according to a city police official, who asked to not be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The total number of those impacted by the searing temperatures at the event is believed to be much higher, as many may have sought medical care in their local district.
The police official told CNN on Tuesday over 1 million people attended the ceremony for the Maharashtra Bhushan, a civilian award presented by the state government.
The state government will provide 500,000 rupees ($6,095) in compensation to the families of the deceased and cover medical expenses of those undergoing treatment, according to a statement from Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s office issued Sunday.
In the statement, Shinde described the deaths following the ceremony as “very painful and unfortunate.”
During the event, the guest of honor, Home Minister Amit Shah, praised the crowd for braving the 42C (107 Fahrenheit) temperatures to attend the outdoor ceremony.
Temperatures in the state are expected to remain high this week, according to India’s Meteorological Department, though the department had not issued a heat wave alert for Maharashtra as of Monday.
Heat waves in India usually take place between March and July, but in recent years these hot spells have become more intense, more frequent and longer.
Last year, India experienced a searing heatwave, where parts of the country reached more than 49C (120F). By July, India had recorded 24 heatwave deaths, Reuters reported, citing data provided by India’s science and technology and earth sciences minister, Jitendra Singh.