NEW DELHI: India’s health minister said Tuesday the government will work to mitigate deaths from surging temperatures after reports of several fatalities caused by a severe heatwave this week.

India’s north and east have seen scorching temperatures of up to 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit) this week, with health authorities reporting a spate of heat stroke hospitalisations and deaths.

Scientists say such hot spells are becoming harsher and more frequent across South Asia as a result of climate change.

At least 54 die in northern India as heat wave scorches region

Top officials met Tuesday to address “problems arising out of the scorching heat across the country and the preparedness for public health”, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Twitter.

The Indian Council of Medical Research had been “directed to make short term and long term plans to avoid deaths due to heat wave and heat stroke in the future”, he added.

Officials from Bihar’s disaster management agency said Tuesday it had confirmed nine people had died of heat stroke in the eastern state.

Bihar State Health Society executive director Sanjay Kumar Singh said around 375 people had been admitted to different government hospitals for various heat-related ailments.

Officials in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh are probing the deaths of nearly 60 people that media reports attributed to searing temperatures in Ballia district.

However, deputy health minister Mayankeshwar Sharan Singh said that it was not possible to say whether all the deaths were due to the heat, as some had pre-existing ailments.

Rising temperatures are making Indian summers ever more scorching, particularly in urban areas full of concrete trapping the heat.

At least eleven people died of heat stroke in the western state of Maharashtra in April after an estimated one million spectators waited for hours in the sun at a government event.

At the same time, India depends heavily on fossil fuels to power its economy and has found its reliance on dirty energy hard to kick, despite increasing global pressure.

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