Phalodi, a small city in Rajasthan climbed to a searing 51 degree Celsius on Thursday afternoon, and broke the country’s record for all-time hottest temperature. The previous record, 50.6 degree celsius, was set in 1886. April and May tend to be the hottest months in northwest India, and this year has been exceptionally so.
According to The Washington Post, Christopher C. Burt, a weather historian at Weather Underground, posited that April’s heat wave was the most intense ever observed in Southeast Asia. In India it has lasted for weeks — but the heat never truly dissipated, dragging on into May. Hundreds of people have died from heat-related illness. Northern India and Nepal have been battling their worst wildfires in years. Officials have on occasion banned daytime cooking in an attempt to prevent accidental fires that killed nearly 100 people in late April.
The Meteorological Department has issued a “severe heat wave warning” for a huge swath of the country on Thursday, which will continue through Saturday. The department expects temperatures will remain above average through at least May 27. A similar period of extreme heat killed over 2,500 people in 2015.