KARACHI: Although the number of deaths caused by a gruelling heatstroke in Sindh significantly declined on Friday, the day’s count swel­led to 94 after the release of fresh figures by some government hospitals which had earlier excluded the death of unidentified people, bringing the week’s tally to 1,210.

Various government-run hospitals in Karachi confirmed that at least 44 people died of heatstroke on Friday. Three more deaths were reported from Jacobabad, Badin and Dadu.

Officials in Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) said that earlier they had not included in their tally the death of 47 people who were pronounced dead on arrival because their identity was not known and no-one came to claim them in later days.

“They were brought dead over the past few days, but no-one came to identify them or claim the bodies,” said a senior official in the hospital. Subsequently, those unidentified persons — all men aged 30 or over — were sent to Edhi’s morgue.

Similarly, sources in the provincial health department said that several unidentified bodies had been shifted to other government-run hospitals and smaller facilities over the last week and some of them, as in the case of CHK, did not count them in initial phases.

They hoped the death count might be corrected later.

Earlier, Edhi Foundation’s representative Faisal Edhi said his morgue had received close to 200 unclaimed bodies since Saturday and 140 of them were buried at Edhi’s graveyard in Muwachh Goth after no-one came to claim them.

Doctors at the city’s various hospitals corroborated the earlier statement of the Pakistan Medical Association and Faisal Edhi that a significant number of people who died of heatstroke were poor and destitute and many of them had arrived in Karachi from poor and remote areas of Punjab and other districts of Sindh for begging during Ramazan.

“From their attires, coarse hands and muddy toes one can easily find that they belonged to extremely poor background,” said an official at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

A senior government official said the number of fresh victims was very few and claimed that the situation had “almost normalised”.

“The number of patients arriving in hospitals today is much smaller than previous days because the weather is getting better,” the official said.

But the frequency of passionate citizens and philanthropists visiting hospitals and donating medicines, juices and bottled water did not fade away.

“Our stores are full, but they are continuously coming here to help patients,” was the statement commonly made by officials of various hospitals in the city.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2015

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