As the number of fatalities from a three-day heat wave in southern Sindh province surges past 650, a state of emergency has been declared in the hospitals.
Emergency measures are being called for by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Heat stroke centers and relief camps have been set up, assisted by the army, with the temperatures nearing 45 degrees Celsius (113 F).
Numerous people perished in government-run hospitals in Karachi, home to around 20 million people.
Officials are facing criticism for not being able to tackle to crisis effectively. Regular power cuts have worsened the condition, with the usage of air conditioning units and fans significantly restricted.
On Tuesday, Saeed Mangnejo, a senior health official in Sindh province, said, “The number of people who have died in the heatwave has now reached 692,” as reported by Al Jazeera. He further added that the death toll might increase.
Several people brought into the hospitals suffered from heatstroke and dehydration. Post Graduate Medical College, Karachi’s largest hospital, has given treatment to in excess of 3,000 patients, Dr. Semi Jamila said.
Official Anwar Kazmi said that more than 400 people, who died from heat-related complications, were brought into a morgue run by the charity Edhi Foundation, as reported by Reuters.
A normal summer temperature in the port city is 37 degrees Celsius (99 F), but this year temperatures as high as 44 degrees Celsius (111 F) have been reported.
The Army has taken the initiative of setting up “heat stroke relief camps” amidst politicians playing the blame game, with the provincial government facing criticism for their inability to combat the adversity. The situation has been exacerbated by power outages that, in addition to limiting the use of air conditioners, are depriving people of running water. The electricity grid has been burdened with the excessive use of air conditioners.
BBC reported that a campaign was launched on the fourth day to reiterate steps that need to be taken in these extreme temperatures.
A lawmaker also suggested that the parliament shut its air conditioning off for an hour to show solidarity with the people.
People are hoping that the pre-monsoon rains, expected to arrive later in the week, will improve the weather conditions.
Ghulam Rasool, director general of the Meteorological Department, said, “A sea breeze will set in some time tonight. The temperature will come down as the monsoon rain enters the Sindh coast, bringing rain to the city.”
Last month, extremely high temperatures causing water scarcity in several villages in India resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.
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