HYDERABAD, India (June 2) - Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims prayed Sunday in a southern city in India for respite from a heat wave that has claimed 884 lives.
Some 100,000 Muslims offered special prayers for rain in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh state, following a tradition set by the Prophet Mohammed, who is believed to have led similar prayers for rain more than 14 centuries ago.
In another part of the city, more than 5,000 Hindus gathered on the bed of a dried out lake, chanting sacred hymns and prayers from ancient Hindu texts for a reprieve from the blazing heat.
At least 884 people have died in the past three weeks because of the heat wave, D.C. Roshaiah, the state's chief relief official, said Sunday.
Temperatures rose as high as 116 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday and the weather was not expected to change in the next few days, Roshaiah said.
Last year, a heat wave killed more than 1,000 people in the state, most of them elderly and unable to bear temperatures that reached up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hundreds of people were being treated in hospitals for dehydration and sunstroke, complaining of high fevers and vomiting, Roshaiah said.
06/02/03 03:16 EDT