Thiruvananthapuram: A mere eight months after Kerala was hit by devastating floods that ravaged its landscape, a severe heatwave is roiling life in Kerala, with four lives being lost in recent days and nearly 40 people suffering sunstrokes on Tuesday alone.

According to the health department, as many as 198 people have been singed by the heatwave until Wednesday. Palakkad district is suffering the brunt of the hot summer, with temperatures hitting 41 degree Celsius in the district on Wednesday, the third straight day that the mercury has touched 41 degree Celsius. Thrissur was close behind with a temperature of 40.5 degree Celsius.

On Tuesday, among those who suffered sunstrokes were a 4-year-old girl, Adiya Siraj in Kanjirapally, and a cleaning staff in Kottayam identified as Ponnambalam Sekharan. At Keezhmadu near Aluva, a bull was found dead in a paddy field, apparently a victim of the heat condition.

The heatwave has caused such concern that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the heat and drought conditions prevailing in the state.

Information has already been provided by government authorities to avoid being out in the sun between 11am and 3pm.

To add to the problems, several parts of the state are facing acute drinking water crisis. Some areas in the state have received intermittent rainfall over the past fortnight, but the prediction is that the heat condition will continue for some more time.

Local media has quoted the disaster management authority as saying that the ultra-violet index of the sun in Kerala has crossed 12, to be in the grade of ‘extreme severity’. Since there are few indications of a depression in the Bay of Bengal, the possibilities for summer rain in the state are minimal.

There is a provision to pay up to Rs400,000 (Dh21,328) from the government to families of those who die owing to sunstroke.

Most of the schools in the state have closed for summer vacations, but there are also tens of thousands of students who are having school and college examinations in March and April.

The heatwave is also affecting the poll campaign in different parts of the state, with candidates finding few voters out on the roads during daytime, and candidates themselves finding it difficult to work long hours in extreme heat conditions.