Officials in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh are investigating dozens of deaths that some have attributed to a heatwave.
Between Thursday and Saturday, 54 deaths were reported in Ballia district, around 274km from state capital Lucknow.
A district health official who said heat could be a cause was transferred, sparking a political row.
The state government later set up a panel to submit a report on the deaths.
Temperatures in several parts of Uttar Pradesh have ranged between 42C and 47C in the past week. The government has advised elderly people to stay indoors.
In neighboring Bihar state, local media reported that more than 40 people had died due to heat since 31 May, but the state government has not confirmed the number.
Bihar’s additional chief secretary of health, Pratyaya Amrit, did not respond to the BBC’s calls and messages. Dr Umesh Kumar, the official in charge of Bihar’s disaster control room, told BBC Hindi that he had received reports of around 15-16 deaths in the state and could give more details later in the day.
The controversy in Uttar Pradesh began on Friday after Diwakar Singh, chief of Ballia district hospital, told reporters that around 25 people had died, and that heat may have been a factor.
“Most of the patients were above 60 and had pre-existing ailments. These were exacerbated by the heat and they were brought to the hospital in serious condition. They died despite being given adequate treatment and medicines,” Dr Singh said.
A day later, he was transferred from the post. Brajesh Pathak, the state’s deputy chief minister, said that Dr Singh’s statement was “careless” but added that the government was taking the situation “very seriously”.
He said two senior officials had been sent to investigate and report on the incident.
“Those who have lost their lives are poor farmers because they did not receive food, medicines and treatment on time,” former state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav alleged.
Heatwaves are common in northern India, especially in May and June, but experts say they have become more intense and frequent and last longer.