LUCKNOW, India – Near-freezing temperatures and icy Himalayan winds killed 13 people overnight in northern India, bringing the death toll to nearly 100 from a cold snap that began three weeks ago, police said Monday.
The worst-hit is the state of Uttar Pradesh, where at least 81 people — mostly poor and homeless — have died because of the intense cold.
At least 13 people died overnight in Uttar Pradesh, police spokesman Surendra Srivastav said Monday.
In New Delhi, 10 people have died in the past two weeks, while another six deaths were reported from Jharkhand state.
Uttar Pradesh is one of India's poorest states and nearly a fifth of its 180 million people are homeless, according to state government statistics.
The state government has arranged for nearly 3,500 bonfires to be lit through the night at major road crossings, railway and bus stations to prevent further deaths from the cold wave that has gripped the state since the last week of December.
All schools have been ordered closed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and neighboring Bihar states until the weather improves.
The temperature dipped below 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) in parts of Uttar Pradesh, with the mercury plunging to 33 F (0.6 C) in Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located.
Though India is famous for its brutally hot summers, temperatures fall sharply for a few weeks in December and January. Poor people, particularly those living on the streets, are the worst hit.