India's Kerala shuts schools, colleges amid sweltering heat

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South Indian state of Kerala has closed all schools and colleges until Monday due to scorching temperatures, urging people in the coastal region to limit exposure to the sun and take care to prevent wildfires.

With most parts of India reeling from high temperatures, the weather department has forecast an unusually high number of heatwave days for April to June, as the country stages a general election that has seen a low voter turnout.

Heatwaves are rare in Kerala and data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that the state recorded five heatwave days in April.

Referring to the current El Nino weather pattern, the IMD said on Wednesday that El Nino years typically have more heating, with hot and dry weather in Asia and heavier rains in parts of the Americas.

Fewer thunderstorms and an anti-cyclonic circulation near India's southeastern coast were causing heatwaves, the IMD said.

Kerala's state government on Thursday directed people to minimise exposure to the sun and urged authorities to monitor situations to avoid fires. With several districts issuing heatwave warnings, the government asked all educational institutions to be shut till Monday.

Local media reported that at least two people died earlier this week in Kerala, but authorities are yet to confirm if their death was due to extreme heat.

On Thursday, temperature in state capital Thiruvananthapuram touched 35 degrees Celsius but the IMD said it felt like 46 due to high humidity.

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