India is reeling under a severe drought that has now affected over a quarter of the country's 1.25 billion population, the government told the country's Supreme Court Tuesday. A total of 256 districts across 10 states in the country -- home to nearly 330 million people -- have been affected by the drought, triggered by scanty monsoon rains and a heat wave that has pushed temperatures in some states above 113 degrees Fahrenheit. India's Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha, who provided the data to the court, said that the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and the western state of Maharashtra -- cumulatively accounting for a total of over 130 million of the drought-affected population -- have been affected the most. Recently, Maharashtra was forced to move 13 cricket matches out of the state after the High Court decried the "criminal wastage" of water that is needed to prepare the pitches. "We agree that merely shifting of IPL [Indian Premier League] matches out of the state will not be a solution but this can be a beginning to address the drought situation in Maharashtra.
Around 330 million people in India are suffering from drought. The Marathwada region in India's western Maharashtra state is badly affected, reeling under the worst drought in decades. Around 400km from Mumbai, the region has been getting insufficient rains for the past three years. Temperatures are in the low 40s in some areas, with others only cooling to 38C at night. It is worse for the poor in rural areas, who are forced to drink whatever water they can.
The severe drought in Ethiopia has made headline news. But it has also scorched northern Somalia – a region far less able to cope with the impact. Some 385,000 people are already facing a hunger crisis in self-declared independent Somaliland and semi-autonomous Puntland, further to the east. The UN's emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, says an estimated 1.7 million people, nearly 40 percent of the 4.6 million people living in these areas, are in need of humanitarian assistance and livelihood support. "Of these, 1.3 million people are at risk of slipping into acute food insecurity if they do not receive assistance," it warned.
Southeast Asia and India are currently enduring a historic and brutal heat wave that has already been blamed for more than 150 deaths and shows few signs of relenting. April in Thailand is typically hot and sweaty, but this year's scorching weather has set a record for the longest heat wave in at least 65 years. The temperature in Sukhothai, Thailand spiked to 44.3 degrees Celsius, or 111.7 degrees Celsius, on April 12 -- just short of the all-time national record. Surrounding countries have set all-time temperature records for any month of the year during this April heat wave. Chris Burt, a weather historian at Weather Underground, said Cambodia and Laos each set all-time record highs for any day of the year during this month.
More than 100 people are feared dead in India in an early-summer heat wave which forced schools to close and halted outdoor work like construction, government officials said on Thursday. Neighboring Pakistan, which suffered its hottest spell in decades last year, plans to open 500 response centers to provide shelter and cold water to people if a heat-wave warning is issued, a government official said. No heat deaths have yet been reported. India's hottest months are May and June, but some states have already registered temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), forcing authorities to take emergency steps. In the southern Indian state of Telangana, 45 people have died from heat exposure, and another 17 in Andhra Pradesh, officials said.