Pakistan heatwave death toll soars past 1,000

Army and ranger units deployed to help in Karachi and surrounding areas, as cooler temperatures bring some relief.

Cooler temperatures brought some relief for residents in Karachi on Thursday [Getty Images]
Cooler temperatures brought some relief for residents in Karachi on Thursday [Getty Images]

The death toll from a severe heatwave in southern Pakistan has climbed past 1,000, even as cooler conditions brought some relief to the region.

Temperatures in Karachi and surrounding areas in Sindh province dropped to the high 30s on Thursday after five days of heat in the low-mid 40s. 

Despite the drop, the death toll continued to rise, with Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority saying that army and ranger units had been deployed to help those suffering through the crisis.

Heatwave death toll climbs 700 in Pakistan

“They have set up 29 heatstroke centres across the province. They have been distributing around 77 tonnes of mineral water,” Major General Asghar Nawaz said on Thursday.

The recent spike in temperatures has come as many in Muslim-majority Pakistan fast during daylight hours to observe Ramadan, further exacerbating the situation.

Victims of the heat wave have died of heat stroke, dehydration or other heat-related illnesses – with the elderly and poor the worst-affected groups.

Dr Seemin Jamali, a senior official at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi’s largest government hospital, told Al Jazeera that the centre’s mortuary was “overflowing”.

“They are piling bodies one on top of the other,” Jamali said.

“Until [Tuesday] night, it was unbelievable. We were getting patients coming into the emergency ward every minute,” she said.

Read more: Up to 700 dead as Pakistan reels under blistering heat

Repeated power outages across the province, and particularly in Karachi, have also meant that people have not been able to find respite indoors. Some Karachi residents told Al Jazeera they were without electricity for more than 12 hours everyday.

K-Electric, Karachi’s power supply and distribution company, said that it was struggling to deal with a spike in demand, as residents were keeping air conditioners on for longer during the heat wave.

The power outages have also affected the water supply to the city, which was already struggling to meet heightened demand during the summer months.

Source : Al Jazeera


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