India Heat Wave Claims 300 Lives

PATNA, India (AP) -- A sizzling heat wave has claimed more than 300 lives in India this month, and officials have forbidden daytime cooking in some areas to prevent fires that have killed nearly 80 others.

The eastern state of Bihar banned cooking between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. after accidental fires exacerbated by dry, hot and windy weather swept through shantytowns and thatched-roof houses and killed 79 people.

People are also barred from burning spent crops or holding fire rituals as part of Hindu religious practice. Disaster management official Vyas, who goes by one name, said Friday that anyone who violates the orders could face up to a year in jail.

More than 300 people have died of heat-related illness this month, as more than 330 million struggle with severe drought.