65 dead from heatstroke: Edhi
Residents of Pakistan´s largest city Karachi were urged to seek shelter Monday as the temperature hit 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit), sparking fears of widespread heatstroke during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department warned the sweltering heat would continue throughout the week, forecasting daytime temperatures of between 40-43 degrees.
“Considering the ongoing observance of Ramadan and people fasting, authorities have to ensure adequate supply of power and water,” the department said in a statement.
Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar urged residents to stay indoors during the day to avoid heatstroke.
Still thousands remained outdoors where they huddled around public taps, wetting towels to cover their heads.
The city of more than 15 million is hit by frequent power cuts and has few green spaces.
People living on its streets have little access to shelter or safe drinking water, making them acutely at risk in blistering temperatures.
The heatwave coincides with the beginning of Ramadan, when millions of devout Pakistanis abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.
In June 2015 about 1,200 people died in southern Pakistan during a heatwave, with nearly two-thirds of the victims homeless people.
As temperatures soar, at least 65 people have died in different areas of Karachi from heatstroke, Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Foundation told media on Monday.
According to Faisal, 114 bodies were brought to the Edhi Foundation’s morgues in Karachi’s Korangi and Sohrab Goth areas in the past three days, out of which at least 65 had died from heatstroke. Most of the citizens who died from heatstroke were residents of Landhi and Korangi, Faisal said.
He added that most heatstroke victims had died at their home. The ages of people who succumbed to the ongoing heatwave in Karachi varied from six to 78 years, he said.
“People did not get medical help on time, which resulted in their death,” he said.
Highlighting the magnitude of the crisis caused by the severe heat, Faisal said that the morgue in Korangi receives around 10-11 bodies per day. However, since Saturday evening, the morgue had received 34 bodies, while the morgue in Sohrab Goth had received 30 bodies.
Most of the victims, Faisal told media, had expired while going about doing daily chores.
Attempts to independently verify Faisal Edhi’s claims proved inconclusive, as some of the families who lost their loved ones attributed the deaths to pre-existing ailments or other causes while hospital sources declined to comment.
Temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius are expected to persist in Karachi until May 23 as the city swelters in the grip of a heatwave.
On Sunday, the Pakistan Meteorological Department issued an alert for the city, saying that “hot to very hot weather is likely to prevail in Karachi”. A maximum temperature of 44°C was recorded at 3pm in the city the same day.