Cold wave conditions were intensifying in Uttar Pradesh with the mercury plummeting to 3.5 degrees on Saturday night in Lucknow.
According to sources, 59 persons have died due to the intense cold wave conditions across Uttar Pradesh though the state government maintains that the deaths have been due to health-related conditions and not cold wave.
Sources said that a maximum of 33 deaths were reported from Kanpur and its adjoining districts.
The state capital recorded a minimum temperature of 3.5 degrees Celsius while Muzaffarnagar went lower with 1.7 degree Celsius temperature.
This was lower than the readings recorded at three prominent hill stations of north India -- Shimla and Nainital were at 4 degrees Celsius each and Dehradun at 3.6 degrees Celsius.
Saturday was the state capital's coldest day so far this winter and the chilly winds aggravated the bitterness of the cold. The real feel temperature was around two degrees less than the actual temperature. The daytime high was no less numbing at 15.1 degrees Celsius, seven units below normal.
Sunday also began with freezing temperatures and dense fog.
"It was a double trouble because the city witnessed both severe cold day (maximum temperature seven degrees below normal) and cold winds," said a Meteorological Department official.
Air, rail and road traffic were thrown out of gear due to dense fog that enveloped the city, dragging visibility below 50 metres. When the icy winds cleared the fog to an extent, smog ensured poor visibility.
Attendance fell in most offices and several commercial establishments closed before the scheduled time due to absence of customers.
Hospitals and private medical facilities, however, recorded increased foot falls with patients of heart and brain stroke and also pneumonia.
"These cold wave conditions are a danger signal for the elderly. Room heaters and 'angithis' add to the problem because they burn up oxygen and are particularly hazardous for asthma patients.
"People should avoid exposing themselves to the cold and stay indoors as far as possible. The maximum numbers of patients are those who go for morning walks in these conditions. People should exercise indoors and avoid morning walks till the temperatures rise," said Sharad Kumar, a general physician.
The Met officials have said that the prevailing conditions would continue till January 3 and rain was expected in parts of Uttar Pradesh around January 1.
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