Unusual cold wave in New Delhi
Steph Deschamps / January 30, 2022
An unusual cold snap has hit New Delhi in recent days, causing deaths among the homeless in the Indian metropolis of 20 million people.
The capital of India is used to extreme weather variations, with temperatures often exceeding 35 or 40 degrees, torrential rains or pollution peaks in autumn. Despite this, the wind and freezing rain of this January are experienced by many as an ordeal.
On Tuesday, New Delhi recorded its coldest January day since 2013 with a maximum temperature of 12.1°C, ten degrees below the seasonal normal. Minimums sometimes hovered near zero and remained below 10°C for several days.
Since the beginning of the year, 176 people have died of cold in the city, according to Sunil Kumar Aledia, a member of one of the capital's main homeless aid organizations. Because of these extreme temperatures, many people on the street are dying, he told AFP.
The last ten days have been very cold, especially in the last week, and there hasn't been much sun. We are worried because it is difficult to stay warm, Mukesh, a 30-year-old homeless man he met at an emergency shelter, told AFP.
In the streets of New Delhi, many homeless people gather at night around wood fires lit on the sidewalk to try to keep warm.
According to the last census, in 2011, about 47,000 people in New Delhi were homeless, a figure that humanitarian organizations consider to be far below the reality. The city's shelters have only 9,300 beds.
According to the Indian Meteorological Office, maximum temperatures in Delhi were two to six degrees below average for most of January.