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Monsoon hits Kerala coast

New Delhi, June 8 (Agencies): Monsoon rains hit the southern coast in Kerala today, bringing respite from a three-week heatwave that has killed more than 1,300 people.

“(The) monsoon has advanced into Kerala. Conditions are favourable for its advance into south Karnataka in the next 48 hours,” said S.K. Subramaniam, the deputy director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department.

The annual June-September southwest monsoon, the lifeline of the country’s economy, usually hits the southern coast on June 1. But this year, the Northeast received the first monsoon rain on Thursday.

Millions have been praying for rain and searching for water as wells dried up in the last few weeks. Over 1,300 people have died in Andhra Pradesh from sunstroke and dehydration.

The weather office yesterday said the heatwave would recede from parts of central India, including Andhra Pradesh, in the next 48 hours.

The impact of the southwest monsoon on Tamil Nadu, Kerala’s neighbour, has brought some respite to the sweltering state as the temperature dropped marginally to 41 degrees Celsius, the Chennai weather office said.

Good rainfall is expected in Kerala and Karnataka in the next two to three days, following the strengthening of the Arabian branch of the southwest monsoon, Subramaniam said.

He attributed the temperature dip in Delhi and nearby areas to southwesterly winds.

According to Subramaniam, the monsoon in the Northeast has not advanced.

The monsoon, after its arrival in Kerala, usually advances to the oilseeds and rice growing states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in about two weeks.

Analysts said the delay in the monsoon by a few days was unlikely to hit crop output as long as rain spread evenly across the country. India’s economy, Asia’s third largest, depends heavily on monsoons.

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