New Delhi, Dec 20 (UNI) Despite the Uttar Pradesh government providing blankets and arranging bonfires for the poor, the biting cold claimed eight more lives in the state in the past 24 hours and four in Bihar as temperatures slumped to minus 0.4 degrees in Amritsar in Punjab.
The nationwide toll stood at 67, with Uttar Pradesh reporting 51 deaths this winter, Gujarat six, Bihar and Punjab four each and Himachal Pradesh two.
According to the weather office, Sultanpur was the coldest place in Uttar Pradesh recording the minimum temperature of 4.1 degrees C, which was 5 degrees below normal.
Following dense fog during early mornings and late nights, several long distance trains were running late, while road traffic was also affected.
To ward off the chilly winter, UP Chief Minister Mayawati had made arrangements to distribute blankets and provide bonfires for the poor.
In Bihar, the minimum temperature plummeted to 5.8 degrees.
According to official sources, the four victims included a police personnel and a woman.
In Punjab, Amritsar turned out to be the coldest place in the plain with temperature recorded minus 0.4 degrees , Adampur airbase, near Jalandhar, also turned out to be the coldest place in Punjab, recording the minimum temperature at 1 degree.
A Defence spokesperson said a thick blanket of fog enveloped several areas in the region reducing visibility to nil in the morning. The minimum temprature hovered 2.8 degrees below normal.
The Union Territory of Chandigarh recorded a low of 4 degrees, while Ambala in Haryana showed 1.2 degrees.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the minimum temperature plummeted to minus 0.8 degrees and minus 1.4 degrees in Srinagar and Avantipura, respectively. However, Udhampur and Jammu were slightly warmer, recording 4.4 degrees and 8.2 degrees , respectively.
Biting cold continued in Delhi even as the minimum rose slightly by a degree from yesterday's 4.2 degrees which was the season's coldest.
The mercury recorded 5 degrees , which is 3 degrees below normal.
Visibility dropped to 300 meters delaying flights and disrupting traffic.
Himachal Pradesh also reeled under the cold wave. People in the tribal districts of Lahaul spiti and Kinnaur and Pangi valley and Bharmour area in Chamba district were facing biting cold wave as the minimum hovered below freezing point in these areas.
The temperature remained one degree above normal at state capital Shimla recording 5.1 degrees.
The entire Kashmir valley continued to be in the grip of cold wave with Srinagar recording 0.6 degrees while Jammu registered 8.4 degrees .
Jammu and Kashmir government, in a meeting chaired by Minister for Social Welfare Haji Nissar Ali, decided to arrange a courier service AN-32 to operate twice a week during winter months between Srinagar and Kargil, which remained cut off from the rest of the country due to closure of national highway because of ten to 20 feet of snowfall at Zojila and zero point.
It was decided in the meeting that SRTC would provide buses to transport passengers from Kargil House here to Srinagar airport and vice-versa.
In Kolkata, the city of joy, temperatures continue to fall as it welcomes the Christmas season with warm clothes and wishes.
Cold wave conditions also prevailed in some parts of Jharkhand and Bihar. Night temperatures were below normal in some parts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim and in some parts of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
Rain or snow are likely to occur at a few places in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and at isolated places in Uttarakhand.
Mainly dry weather will prevail over the Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat State, Konkan and Goa, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and Telangana.