Karachi - The ongoing heatwave in Karachi has killed at least 64 people in the past three days, the head of a renowned public welfare organistaion claimed on Monday, as the temperature hit 44 degrees Celsius on the second consecutive day.

The Sindh government however bitterly opposed the assertion, saying no case of heatstroke death had been reported at the city hospitals.

Amid fears of widespread heatstroke during the fasting month of Ramazan, the Met Office however urged the residents of the largest city of the country to seek shelter.

It warned the sweltering heat would continue throughout the week, forecasting daytime temperatures of between 40-43 degrees.

The head of Edhi Foundation, Faisal Edhi confirmed the deaths from the scorching heat quoting relatives of the deceased.

He said that at least 160 bodies were brought to their Korangi and Sohrab Goth morgues during last three days – out of which 64 had been confirmed as the victims of heatstroke.

Edhi said this three-day death toll was three times higher than normal rate, adding that most of the heatwave victims belonged to Landhi and Korangi areas of the city and they represented all age groups.

But Sindh Health secretary told the media that not a single case of heatstroke death was reported at the public hospitals.

Executive director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Dr Seemi Jamali also backed secretary’s claim as she told The Nation that neither any patient having complaint of heatstroke was brought to the hospital nor any death had occurred.

She; however, informed that some persons with the complaints of minor heat exhaustion were brought to the hospital but released after normal treatment shortly.

“Considering the ongoing observance of Ramazan and people fasting, authorities have to ensure adequate supply of power and water,” the Pakistan Meteorological Department said in a statement.

Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar urged residents to stay indoors during the day to avoid heatstroke.

However, despite the claims of administration, hardly any heatstroke camp was established in city to give first aid to heat affected people.

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.

Despite the seething heat, thousands remained outdoors on Monday huddling around public taps and wetting towels to cover their heads.

The heatwave coincides with the beginning of Ramazan, 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.

The situation had become most miserable as the morgues in Karachi were out of space and the victims’ heirs were compelled to book the grave on much higher prices.

Besides the humans, the zoo animals and agricultural livestock had been affected as countless animals died of heatstroke.

At that time no timely alert was issued by the met department but this time around, the department had earlier warned that the temperature would be increased big time.

Despite the timely alert, the administration has failed to take effective measures this time too.

Following a laid-back approach, Karachi Commissioner Ejaz Ahmed Khan has finally directed deputy commissioners of all districts to make heatstroke camps functional within their respective jurisdictions.

 

 

‘Heatwave kills 64’ in three days in Karachi

Muhammad Sabih