The Indian state of Bihar grappled yesterday with twin crises, with a brain virus potentially linked to lychees killing almost 100 children and extreme heat leaving 78 people dead.
The heatwave -- India’s second-longest on record -- prompted authorities in part of the northern state, one of the country’s poorest, to impose curfew-like restrictions.
Daytime temperatures across large parts of India have hovered above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for the past 32 days, just one short of a record 33-day period in 1988.
Temperatures touched 50.3 degrees Celsius in the town of Churu in the northern desert state of Rajasthan recently, just below India’s record of 51 degrees.
Bihar, home to almost 100 million people, has seen temperatures hovering around 45 degrees for several days.
Severe heat there has killed 78 people -- most of them aged above 50 -- across three districts since Saturday afternoon, local official Sandeep Kumar told AFP.
More than 130 others were undergoing emergency treatment for heatstroke in various hospitals.
Bihar has also been struggling with an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), a viral infection, since the start of this month.
Eighty children have now died in the state’s biggest government-run hospital -- the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), in the city of Muzaffarpur -- and 17 others at a private facility, health official Ashok Kumar Singh said. Most of the victims had suffered a sudden loss of glucose in their blood, Singh told AFP.