Modi warns of heat danger as fire rages in India

STORY: As a landfill burned outside the capital Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned the country is getting too hot, too soon.

"The mercury is rapidly soaring in India and it usually does not happen at this time of the year. The number of fire incidents can also be seen rising in such a situation. In the past few days, fire has broken out in many forests, historical monuments, and hospitals."

Extreme heat has swept across large areas of India and Pakistan this week, and follows the hottest March in more than 100 years.

The temperatures put more than a billion people at risk of heat-related health impacts, scientists said. In the capital New Delhi, temperatures have soared past 100 degrees Fahrenheit for several days, and are forecast to linger.

Modi asked states to conduct fire-safety audits for hospitals. Dozens of people die every year in fires at Indian hospitals and factories, mainly due to illegal construction and lax safety standards. A new surge in COVID-19 cases has compounded the danger.

Fires in Delhi's landfills also contribute to toxic air in the world's most polluted capital.

Firefighters struggled on Wednesday to extinguish the blaze at the Bhalswa landfill site, as neighbors struggled to breathe.

LOCAL, SANJAY RATHORE: "The fire is creating a lot of heat and also polluting the environment. It is, in turn, making it difficult to breathe. The entire colony is suffering because of this."

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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