Cooking during the day banned after fires kill 300 in drought-hit India

Daytime cooking is being banned in parts of drought-stricken India to prevent accidental fires which have killed nearly 80 more people. The ban on any cooking between 9am and 6pm has been introduced in the eastern state of Bihar. People were instead told to cook to night. Officials have also barred burning spent crops or holding religious fire rituals. Anyone defying the ban risks up to a year in jail.

We call this the fire season in Bihar. Strong, westerly winds stoke fires which spread easily and cause great damage

State disaster management official Vyas, who goes by one name

The move follows fires, which swept through shanty towns and thatched-roof houses in villages, killing 79 people. They included 10 children and five adults killed in a fire sparked during a Hindu prayer ceremony in Bihar’s Aurangabad district last week. Much of India is reeling under a weeks-long heatwave and severe drought conditions which have decimated crops, killed livestock and left at least 330 million Indians without enough water for their daily needs. Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in parts of the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.