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Karachi heatwave death toll crosses 400

Updated June 22, 2015

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A man carries a heatwave victim to a hospital in Karachi on June 22, 2015.—AFP
A man carries a heatwave victim to a hospital in Karachi on June 22, 2015.—AFP

KARACHI: Death toll from a devastating heatwave that has gripped Sindh for three days has led to at least 250 more deaths in the provincial capital of Karachi on Monday, taking the number of people who have died from heat-related symptoms to at least 400, DawnNews reported.

According to Karachi Medical Corporation (KMC) spokesperson Salma Kausar, more than 70 people lost their lives at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) and KMC hospitals in the past three days. The deaths are said to have occurred due to heat and gastro-related problems. Earlier, it was reported that 30 people had died in ASH on Saturday and Sunday. Twelve women and two children are among the dead.

Edhi volunteers and relatives shift the body of a heatwave victim into an ambulance at the Edhi morgue.— AFP/File
Edhi volunteers and relatives shift the body of a heatwave victim into an ambulance at the Edhi morgue.— AFP/File

Head of emergency department at Karachi's Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Seemin Jamali said over 200 people died at JPMC alone due to heat-related symptoms in the past three days.

Professor N. Saeed Qureshi from Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) said there have been 64 deaths as of Monday night at CHK.

Saqib Zeeshan, a spokesman for Indus Hospital, said 20 people had died of heat-related complications at the hospital till Monday, while the Sindh health minister said at least 15 deaths had been registered at Lyari General Hospital.

Liaquat National Hospital representative Anjum Rizvi said 22 people lost their lives at the hospital in the past 72 hours, while 24 people were reported dead at Qatar Hospital, according to the hospital's spokesman Khalid Masood.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Edhi mortuary told DawnNews that around 400 bodies had been submitted to the welfare centre in the past 48 hours. He said the morgue had reached its capacity and could not accommodate more bodies.

Edhi's Sohrab Goth morgue has received around 200 bodies in the past 24 hours alone, the head of the facility, Muhammad Bilal, told APP. He said these included those who died due to heatstroke as well as others who expired because of various diseases and natural causes.

"We have been telling people not to bring bodies since last night but despite that they are coming. We cannot accommodate more dead bodies," he said.

The Sindh provincial government has imposed a state of emergency at all hospitals, cancelling leave for doctors and other medical staff and increasing stocks of medical supplies.

According to earlier reports, at least 132 people had lost their lives due to the intense weather — most of whom were pronounced dead at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), officials had said.

Know more: Heatwave devastates Karachi, other parts of Sindh; at least 136 dead

Saturday was the hottest day of this year’s summer in Karachi, during which the mercury had shot to 45 degree Celsius. The maximum temperature of 48 degree Celsius was recorded in three districts of Sindh — Jacobabad, Larkana and Sukkur — on Saturday, which slid down to 41 on Sunday.

Officials had said on Sunday that Karachi would not see any let-up on Monday (today) when temperatures are expected to go up to 44 degree Celsius.

Earlier this month, 17 people died due to a heatstroke in Sindh's Sehwan during the Urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

In Karachi, electricity shortages crippled the water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers, the state-run water utility said. Pakistan's Met Office said temperatures hit 43 C in Karachi on Sunday. More hot and humid weather is predicted for the coming 24 hours, though thunderstorms forecast for later in the week could bring cooler weather.

A volunteer sits beside a window while waiting for the relatives of a deceased who died due to intense hot weather. — Reuters/File
A volunteer sits beside a window while waiting for the relatives of a deceased who died due to intense hot weather. — Reuters/File

PM Nawaz directs NDMA to start relief measures

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday expressed profound grief and sorrow over the deaths caused by the heatwave in Karachi and directed doctors and medics to provide the best medical care to those affected.

According to a statement issued by the PM Office, the premier also directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to immediately start relief measures for members of the public.

He stressed that provincial and federal government agencies must immediately launch a campaign to create awareness among ordinary people about the precautionary measures that can be adopted during extreme weather conditions.

The prime minister also instructed relevant authorities to ensure best treatment to the victims of the intense heatwave.

MQM lawmaker lashes out at federal, provincial governments over Karachi heatwave

Amidst protests in the Sindh Assembly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Khawaja Izharul Hasan on Monday hit out at the provincial and federal governments as well as K-Electric over the heatwave in Karachi that has claimed more than 200 lives.

Addressing the Sindh Assembly, a furious Hasan said that K-Electric managed to reap hundreds and thousands of rupees through billing and carried out various operations like Operation Burq (crackdown against power theft) with the help of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) but did not have enough sense to manage people.

Khawaja Izharul Hasan addressing the Sindh Assembly on Monday. — DawnNews screengrab
Khawaja Izharul Hasan addressing the Sindh Assembly on Monday. — DawnNews screengrab

"Crises and difficulties tell you about governments; crises tell you about the functioning of various departments," said Hasan.

Highlighting the deaths of over 2,000 people who were killed in a heatwave in India last month, the MQM lawmaker questioned as to what role was the meteorological department in Pakistan playing.

"Could a minister not have made an announcement or called a press conference; can't coordinated help be achieved through provincial governments?"

Know more: Heatwave devastates Karachi, other parts of Sindh; at least 136 dead

Sindh Rangers establish heatstroke relief centres across Karachi

In order to provide relief to the citizens of Karachi affected by the extreme heatwave in the city, Pakistan Rangers Sindh have established heatstroke relief centres across Karachi, the Rangers' spokesperson Major Sibtain said on Monday.

At each heatstroke centre, doctors, paramedical staff and complete medical facilities will be available to cure heatstroke victims. The following locations are where the centres are situated:

  • Rangers Training Centre and College, Toll Plaza
  • Sindh Rangers Hospital, Block A, North Nazimabad
  • HQ 53 Wing, Baldia Town
  • HQ 93 Wing, People's Football Stadium, Mauripur Road
  • HQ 91 Wing, SITE Stadium
  • HQ 72 Wing, Kala Pull
  • HQ 83 Wing, Jamia Milia Malir
  • HQ 82 Wing, Muzaffarabad Colony
  • HQ 63 Wing, Karachi University
  • HQ 44 Wing, North Karachi