(Bloomberg) -- Nearly 100 people in two of India’s most populous states have died since late last week as a result of higher-than-usual temperatures, the Associated Press reported, citing officials.

While this summer has not smashed last year’s blistering records, India has for weeks been dealing with sweltering conditions in advance of the monsoon season, with mercury touching 46C (close to 115F) in some parts of the country in June. Combined with high humidity, even less extreme temperatures can create fatal conditions.

News reports put deaths in the district of Ballia, in Uttar Pradesh state, at 54 in the past three days, as temperatures hovered between 43C-44C in the region — though officials provided differing explanations. State authorities said there was no “solid evidence” that the deaths there were linked to the heat and have set up a panel to investigate. 

The Indian Express newspaper reported that the chief medical superintendent of the Ballia District Hospital, who had connected deaths to heatstroke, was later removed. Bloomberg was unable to reach the district magistrate and the chief minister’s office to confirm the departure.

Forty-two people died in the neighboring state of Bihar over the last two days, the AP said. 

Senior officials have not directly commented on the deaths. According to a statement on Monday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials to ensure rapid treatment of people suffering from heat-related symptoms, plus the provision of power and water supplies. The information officer for the state declined to elaborate further.

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Extreme heat can have multiple impacts on human health, from dehydration, to increased risk of heart attack and stroke, to breathing problems, especially where pollution levels are elevated. Heat stress makes it harder for people to work and increases the likelihood of injuries.

But measuring the exact impact in India is at best challenging. Official sources of data are often in conflict, which experts say makes it hard to call attention to the dangers of high temperatures and humidity.

For example, according to the government’s National Crime Records Bureau, there were 530 deaths linked to heatstroke in 2020. The National Disaster Management Authority counted just four heat-related deaths that same year. The Crime Records Bureau counted 374 heat-related deaths in 2021. 

“The heat is unprecedented,” Kamlesh Rai, a resident of Ballia district said by phone. “Everyday, I see people in my village falling sick due to the heat and being taken to hospitals.” 

India has found itself especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which include acute pre-monsoon heat waves. The country also endures more regular floods and cyclones, jeopardizing energy and food supplies.

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Sweltering conditions are likely to continue in parts of country’s northern, southern and eastern regions during the next two days and abate thereafter, according to India Meteorological Department. 

--With assistance from Bibhudatta Pradhan and Jeff Sutherland.

(Updates with Uttar Pradesh government statement in sixth paragraph.)

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