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Unseasonal cold kills 114

Dozens of people have died of exposure as northern India deals with unusually cold temperatures.

A vendor wrapped in a quilt sits on his bags of oranges as he waits for customers at a wholesale market in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.
A vendor wrapped in a quilt sits on his bags of oranges as he waits for customers at a wholesale market in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

LUCKNOW // Dozens of people have died of exposure as northern India deals with unusually cold temperatures.

In Uttar Pradesh, a police spokesman, Surendra Srivastava, said earlier this week that at least 114 people have died from the cold. Many of the dead were poor people whose bodies were found on pavements or in parks, he said.

The cold wave continued unabated for the fourth day yesterday, with the lowest night temperature of minus 0.3°C recorded in Muzaffarnagar.

In many areas, daytime temperatures hovered around 12°C, about 5°C below normal.

J P Gupta, regional director with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), attributed the cold wave to the icy winds blowing from the foothills of the Himalayas and said the condition would remain more or less the same in the coming days.

A dense fog enveloped most parts of the sprawling state, especially the western districts closer to New Delhi.

The fog delayed 68 flights at the Delhi International Airport yesterday and Indian Railways said many trains were cancelled and others delayed.

According to the (IMD), the temperature of 1.9°C in Delhi had last been reached in 2008.

Similar conditions are expected today.

The maximum temperature also went down nine degrees below average to 11.8°C.

"There is no respite from the cold even now. I have not seen such harsh winter season in so many years," said Pallavi Batra, a housewife in south Delhi's Sarvodaya Enclave.

The homeless are having a difficult time coping with the biting cold over the past few days. Residents of Lajpat Nagar donated woollens and blankets to the poor in the area.

Temperatures remained below freezing in Jammu and Kashmir, with frost in the Kashmir Valley and fog in Jammu, disrupting air, road and rail traffic. Railway officials said most of the trains whichwere reaching Jammu were delayed due to the fog. Five flights were cancelled.

Road traffic was affected due to one-way traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar motorway. Parts of the Dal Lake in Srinagar have frozen, making life difficult for fisherman and boatmen.

The government is considering extending the winter school holiday by a week in Jammu region, a government spokesman said.

* IANS with additional reports from the Associated Press