BIRATNAGAR: With an abrupt change in weather conditions, temperature in many districts of the eastern region has reached up to 40 degrees. In previous years, such high temperatures were only experienced during the month of June and July.

The Biratnagar based Office of Hydrology and Meteorology said the rise in mercury would continue for a month. "If the trend continues, it would not come as a surprise if temperature crosses the 45 degree mark," Bikash Deuja, an official at the Hydrology and Meteorology Office said, adding, "The highest temperature 42 degree Celsius was recorded some 22 years ago."

The office recorded 40 degree Celsius on Thursday. The maximum temperature was recorded 38 degree Celsius and minimum 20.15 C on Friday. The figure was 38.5 C and 21.5 C on Saturday, Deuja said. With no rainfall, the heat wave has been affecting normal life in the region, locals said. However, the office ruled out chances of early rainfall.

Extended load-shedding hours have made matters worse as people cannot use electric fans and coolers to avoid the sweltering heat. While the sale of cold drinks has increased, movement of people in the markets of Biratnagar, Dharan, Itahari and Birtamod during daytime has decreased drastically.

"Number of patients suffering from typhoid, jaundice, headache, nausea and fever has increased," Dr Rudra Timalsina at Koshi zonal hospital said.

As the space in the hospital is not sufficient to accommodate all patients, they are referred to Dharan based BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences.

"Some 200 patients used to visit the emergency ward everyday but these days the number has reached 400," a hospital source said.