LUCKNOW, India – Cold weather killed nine homeless people in India overnight Tuesday, bringing the death toll from three weeks of frigid winds and near-freezing temperatures to 116.
Police say the worst-hit state is Uttar Pradesh where about 90 people, mostly poor and homeless, have died during the cold spell sweeping northern India.
At least nine more people died overnight, police spokesman Surendra Srivastav said. Ten people have died in neighboring Bihar state, 10 in the Indian capital New Delhi, and six in Jharkhand state since late December.
Dense fog affected railway schedules as more than 30 trains were canceled in Uttar Pradesh. Almost all flights from the main airport in the state capital Lucknow were halted.
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. The temperature has dipped below 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) in parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Schools were ordered closed in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar until the weather improves.
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 affected.