Cold wave kills four people in northern India, death toll rises to 42

Four people froze to death in northern India as temperatures dipped to their lowest level in 12 years, bringing the number of people to have died from cold-related ailments in the past three weeks to 42, an official said Tuesday. The four died overnight Monday in India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, Surendra Srivastava, a government spokesman said.

A teenage girl and a man in his seventies died in Muzaffarnagar, 450 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of the state capital Lucknow, he said. Another two men were found dead on the building site where they were working, he said.

"The state is under the grip of a severe cold wave," R.K. Verma, Director of the Meteorology Department said, adding that the temperature fell to a record 1.5 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts of the state. "It is a record of the last 12 years," he said.

"Night temperatures will drop further," he warned. The normal temperature for this time of year is 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit). Uttar Pradesh, home to 180 million people, is one of the most impoverished states in India.

Many of the poor are forced to live in the open, sleeping in public places with only plastic sheets or jute bags to ward off the cold. The state government started to move homeless people from railway stations and parks to shelters after a rise in casualties due to three weeks of near freezing temperatures, reports the AP. I.L.

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