At least 76 people have died in three Bihar districts as a searing heatwave swept most parts of the state, prompting the government to order closure of academic activities in all schools and colleges till June 22, officials said on Monday.
The Disaster Management Department said 33 people lost their lives in Aurangabad, 31 in Gaya and 12 in Nawada due to the heatwave.
In view of the continuing heatwave and loo gripping most parts of the state for the past couple of days, the government has decided to shut all the colleges, private and government schools, institutes and coaching centres till June 22, Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar said.
The chief secretary was briefing media persons after a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on two issues of deaths from suspected cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and people dying due to blistering heatwave and loo.
He said all markets, especially in south Bihar districts, where heatwave has claimed 76 lives so far in the past three days, will be closed between 11 am to 5 pm.
The chief secretary, however, did not specify the names of the south Bihar districts where markets will remained closed.
All construction activities will be shut from 10 in the morning till the evening, Kumar said, adding that work can be done prior to 10 am and in the evening and thereafter.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had on Sunday announced Rs four lakh ex gratia to the next of kin of those killed.
Major cities in the state, including Patna, Gaya and Bhagalpur, have been witnessing the heatwave for the past couple of days.
As per the Patna Meteorological Centre, Patna, Gaya and Bhagalpur witnessed heatwave on Monday. It forecast heatwave conditions for Patna and Bhagalpur on Tuesday, while Gaya is likely to witness cloudy skies.
Patna and Gaya, which have been reeling under heatwave and loo for the past three days, recorded a high of 42.4 degrees Celsius each on Monday, the weather office said, adding that Bhagalpur and Purnea registered 41.6 and 36.0 degrees Celsius.
Patna and Bhagalpur recorded six notches above their normal maximum temperature, while Gaya recorded five notches above the normal, it said.
A heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is recorded at 4.5 degrees or more above the normal for two consecutive days, a Met official said.