© Agence France-PresseA young Indian child plays under a water pipe in New Delhi. The unrelenting heat is persisting in the Indian capital as temperatures reached 41 degrees Celsius with weathermen forecasting a severe heatwave across the plains of northern India.
An acute heatwave roasting much of India has claimed at least 100 lives, with more deaths feared because the annual monsoon rains have yet to come, officials said Thursday.

In the eastern state of Orissa, at least 58 people have died due to sunstroke since April, disaster management official Durgesh Nandini Sahoo told AFP in the state capital Bhubaneswar.

Local newspapers have reported at least 12 deaths in the impoverished northern state of Bihar, and 17 deaths in neighbouring Jharkhand state.

The Press Trust of India has reported 18 deaths in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, and six more in the south-central state of Andhra Pradesh. In the eastern state of Chhattisgarh authorities have ordered schools to shut.

Indians have been watching the skies anxiously after the monsoon failed to appear two weeks ago, prompting concerns about the impact on agriculture and water supplies as lakes run dry after a long, hot summer.

In the capital New Delhi temperatures over the past week have touched 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).