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Men rest under a bridge during a heatwave in Karachi on June 29, 2015.– AFP
Men rest under a bridge during a heatwave in Karachi on June 29, 2015.– AFP

KARACHI: Nearly two-thirds of the victims of a killer heatwave that swept Sindh last week were homeless people, the provincial health minister said Monday, as the death toll in Karachi reached over 1,200.

The city of 20 million inhabitants is a sprawling metropolis with few green areas and has scant facilities for coping with intensely hot weather.

Those living on the city's streets have little access to shelter or safe drinking water, making them particularly vulnerable to the scorching temperatures.

“About 60 to 65 per cent of the heatstroke victims were beggars and heroin addicts, street people,” Jam Mehtab Dahar, the provincial health minister told AFP.

Zafar Ejaz, a senior health official, said the death toll as of Monday stood at 1,229 across the city's hospitals.

After peaking at around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) on the weekend of June 20-21, the heat subsided to the mid-30s later in the week as the city's customary cooling sea breeze returned.

Among the remaining 35 to 40 per cent of deaths, elderly women who died in their homes comprised a majority, Dahar said, suggesting power cuts had played a role as people had been unable to use fans or air conditioners.

“The women were at homes and not directly exposed to heat unlike the street people,” Dahar added.

This year's heatwave has also coincided with the start of Ramazan, during which millions of devout Pakistanis abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.

Under the The Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance, 1981, it is illegal for Muslims to eat or drink in public during daylight hours in Ramazan, though the crisis prompted some clerics to advise people they should stop fasting if their health is at risk.

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Comments (90) Closed

Maqsood Jun 29, 2015 06:09pm

For their homelessness who is responsible?????

Khwaja Jun 29, 2015 06:09pm

The people suffered at 45 degree Celsius in Karachi. I remember few years ago in Sindh the people of Karachi wanted to continue academics in the province of Sindh for the most of part of month of June due to Ramadan falling in the early days of Augst. Then no one ever heard the voices of Larakan, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Dadu, Nawabashah and more.

Zahid Khan Jun 29, 2015 06:13pm

Mr Dahar irrespective of beggars or homeless poor, they were all human being and Pakistani....

Irfan Jun 29, 2015 06:13pm

The usual strategy. Blame it on whoever comes in mind first.

Ijaz Jun 29, 2015 06:13pm

100% of them were HUMAN BEINGS

Abdulla Hussain Jun 29, 2015 06:17pm

"Nearly two-thirds of the victims of a killer heatwave that swept Sindh last week were homeless people, the provincial health minister said"... What his party which is in government did to provide shelter to the homeless peoples. Where has the juicy slogan of Roti Kapra Aur Makan evaporated after all for the last several years Sindh is governed by PPP, they so easily forgot Bhutto's principle. How easily he said they were homeless peoples as if they were not humans, shame.

Love Pakistan Jun 29, 2015 06:19pm

It seems that Sindh government is happy that they have contributed to poverty reduction!

Haider Rehman Jun 29, 2015 06:21pm

Even bigger wake up call for Sindh govt.

ALI RAZA Jun 29, 2015 06:23pm

So the majority of sind is homeless, beggars and drug addicts?! And therefore, they do not need support?! Wow!

Zahid Khan Jun 29, 2015 06:26pm

@Irfan I am so glade that minister didn't blame Edhi or Chipa for not doing enough...

Khan Jun 29, 2015 06:30pm

Theefore their lives were not important ?

Ordinary Pakistani Jun 29, 2015 06:36pm

Ofcourse it's not the responsibility of these shameless politicians to provide basic sanitation, town planning, electricity generation, education or health to the masses. The lives of ordinary people are not worth saving so they are busy lining their pockets instead. We need a Khomeini style revolution to get rid of this political class. Mosharraf and other generals clearly failed in the past.

Rogers Evans Jun 29, 2015 06:42pm

Whose duty was it to provide homes or shelters to homeless ? Seems to me that this Sind Govt is full of irresponsible ministers.

Ali Tahir Jun 29, 2015 06:43pm

This is ridiculous..... I just came back from Karachi a day ago after my Maternal Uncle's unfortunate demise due to Heat Stroke. Mr Minister, he was not a beggar and not a heroin addict. He lived in North Karachi Sec 5-c/3 and in that area I myself witnessed a death/funeral going on in every other street. Shame on you the Administration of Karachi including the dirty politicians. They are the killers of humanity in Karachi.

Shah Jun 29, 2015 06:43pm

Why do Indians and Pakistanis devalue a poor person's life? People are people.

Zubaida Khan Jun 29, 2015 06:48pm

What do you mean by street people? They were someones children. What an immature statement. You are responsible when people die on your watch. There is no sense of personal responsibility.

SAB Jun 29, 2015 06:49pm

In a few days time the PPPP government would says 60% of the killed were not humans...they only looked like live happily, no crisis....jeay bhutto

ashar Jun 29, 2015 06:53pm

what else we could expect from a feudal mind

anwar Jun 29, 2015 06:57pm

Oh since they were homeless that makes it all worries

Arifq Jun 29, 2015 06:58pm

60-65% translates into 700 people dead that we are supposed to ignore because the Minister without presenting any evidence has labeled them as beggars and drug addicts, how convenient. The inconvenient truth is that 1220 people have died because the Government was unable to protect them or provide a chance for their safety.

Robert Yuna Jun 29, 2015 06:59pm

Is the implication from the Minister's comments that these people do not count?

Naseer Jun 29, 2015 07:00pm

After 8 days Health Minister is able to answer, so is it ok that due to heat homeless people died. Why didn't Sindh govt took necessary measures to keep death toll min. Now as the Min is saying homeless people died is he giving clean chit to K electric that homeless people have no homes so no power

majid Jun 29, 2015 07:00pm

Dear Minister you mean to say that homeless people don't have a right to live ???

Nadeem Jun 29, 2015 07:01pm

If that's true, it's another big shame for Sind govt to have so many homeless people.

Juliana Fitzwater Jun 29, 2015 07:02pm

Homeless, addicts whatever - government was and is responsible for their well being. Provincial health minister seems soulless to me

Sarcastic Jun 29, 2015 07:02pm

Since they were homeless so govt is not responsible for their deaths. What an argument. And who is responsible for them being homeless my dear genius health minister?

imran khan Jun 29, 2015 07:02pm

arent homeless people and beggars humans in the first place or is it that the sindh govt thinks they are not worth humans enough so its ok if they die.

ashar Jun 29, 2015 07:03pm

Then why the responsibility was initially placed on KE.

Naseer Jun 29, 2015 07:06pm

Soon monsoon rains starts , about causualties Minister would again say Homeless and addicts lost their lives

Basit Jun 29, 2015 07:12pm

Who made them addicted it's just because of you people not taking care of them

irshad Jun 29, 2015 07:13pm

Beggars, street people....does it mean that the value of their lives is any less????

saeeds Jun 29, 2015 07:19pm

I am sure again people show poor as a victim and government as a evil. But for last 50 years government begging people for small families and less population. And Now People are homeless because of there families don't listen to government but trust in God produce kids with limited resources. If you produce like a fly you will die like fly. A Harsh truth.

Nastradama Jun 29, 2015 07:30pm

All of you are missing the point. What he meant was ' homeless means, they don't have votes'.

Imran Ahmed Jun 29, 2015 07:33pm

Heartless, insensitive, insanely unjust rich people who are convinced of their own superiority but do not know the value of a human life.

Zarar Naseer Jun 29, 2015 07:37pm

it doesn't make it right people who passed were homeless. Bad comment made by a responsible person.

Saeed Jun 29, 2015 07:42pm

There is no accountability in the minister's statement about his role, why no remedial measures or cooling centers were not created to mitigate the loss of human life???????

Shahan Jun 29, 2015 07:45pm

what kind of nonsense is this. They were humans for god's sake. first you are unable to give them shelter or improve the economic condition, next you are completely blaming them for their homelessness.

Mister Minister, based on the economic conditions you are leading us to, more and more people will become homeless. Should we expect all of them to die ?

Syed Zafar Kazmi Jun 29, 2015 07:48pm

Nothing but a shameless person would speak in this manner on the death of poverty stricken people who live on the streets. But, so what, shamelessness is what defines the rulers and politicians of this country.

TARIQ ALI Jun 29, 2015 07:52pm

Were these poor homeless or beggers not human being?

Anon Jun 29, 2015 07:56pm

Thus goes the provincial government's excuse that people died due to loadshedding. How would the homeless die due to loadshedding?

These people died because there they had no access to drinking water!

Indian Muslim Jun 29, 2015 08:07pm

So homeless people don't have right to life or Pakistani politicians don't have time for poor ?

M Jamal Jun 29, 2015 08:08pm

It is time to say finally goodbye to the corrupt, dirty and visionless politicians ,otherwise,the nation will perish under their bad governance.

A citizen Jun 29, 2015 08:20pm

Mr Minister, you are dead man walking!

Farid Hussain Jun 29, 2015 08:23pm

a shameless statement. Does an addict or a beggar is not a human. in such circumstances the government is guilty of first their homelessness, then their poverty and their deaths. What had happened in Thar where nearly 300 children died of thirst and disease, were they beggars too?. It's just that these politicians do not want to accept responsibility.

Pervez Jun 29, 2015 08:26pm your incompetency is excused, right?

Changez_Khan Jun 29, 2015 08:28pm

Oh what a sigh of relief, victims were homeless, now we do not need worry. What a bunch of cruel politicians. Shame on them.

Faith Jun 29, 2015 08:28pm

Move all these so called homeless people into Bilawal house and all MPA and ministers houses after all they have the luxury because of TAX payers....

Javeria Jun 29, 2015 08:32pm

Actually government of Pakistan and government of Sindh is the responsible for their death and their homelessness: (

dania Jun 29, 2015 08:41pm

Why nothing has been done for these homeless people?

Blue Saffron Jun 29, 2015 08:52pm

How dare our government treats these people like animals. They are our brothers and sisters and fellow Pakistanis. They are human beings.

Syed Ali Jun 29, 2015 08:53pm

Minister wants to absolve himself and government because the dead were beggars etc. World climate is changing. Karachi is much hotter than what it was twenty years back partly because green shrubs have been cut for security reasons and there is no plantation on roads and open spaces. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are much more greener in spite of very high temperature because government take care of plantation. Karachi is neglected city, who cares for greenery. In order to tackle similar calamity in future there should be through investigation though a commission.

Sheikh Khalid Jun 29, 2015 08:58pm

And the Sindh Government is waterless, electricityless, CLUELESS!!

Rao Jun 29, 2015 09:00pm

So its ok for them to die? Or the minister is accepting double guilt - letting his people be homeless and then letting them die of heat?

pak Jun 29, 2015 09:08pm

Excuse me! were they not Pakistanis or an organ of the sate.avoiding responsibilities

syed Jun 29, 2015 09:10pm

So Homeless means that they are not human , wow amazing still we don't know who is responsible for all these death and once again we all forget this in some weeks.

Disgusted Jun 29, 2015 09:21pm

"Majority of Sindh heatwave victims were homeless:"minister This foolish minister has found an excuse which further shows incompetence of his Provincial Govt if there is one such thing.

ahmed Jun 29, 2015 09:24pm

Minister statement is ridiculous and insulting to humanity , that statement indicating all okay and they are street people so if they died who care. shame on this man and on all Sindh Govt. Shame on us that we are Muslim but we are far away from humanity

JUSTICE Jun 29, 2015 09:26pm

Minister should be celebrating the death of homeless, they were homeless because of Sind government negligence, you always took advantage of homeless during election, you paid them to vote for you.

AAR Jun 29, 2015 09:28pm

“About 60 to 65 per cent of the heatstroke victims were beggars and heroin addicts, street people,”. It had nothing to do with the management of basic human rights. If you happen to become a beggar and/or an addict, then you deserve to die, sounds like what he is professing.

sajjad Jun 29, 2015 09:28pm

Heatwaves are known to cause widespread devastation for the societies unaccustomed to this calamity. In France, during the summer of 2003, a severe heatwave during August killed 14802 persons (National Institute of Health, France). Mostly, they were elderly people living alone and have never seen such a tough summer. We should do some research and determine the type of people mostly affected by this calamity as well as the reasons that led to this crisis before starting a blame game.

Sanjeev Jun 29, 2015 09:50pm

What a smart minister.He could immediately figure out that the homeless had died.

Syed Ali Jun 29, 2015 10:02pm

@Ali Tahir Please do not vote for the ruling class; give chance to someone else; you all got nothing to loose.

Logicalindian Jun 29, 2015 10:08pm

@Naseer very right brother. As an Indian I hve to agree than our ministers are no more sensible than yours.they always play the blame condolences for all who suffered from this heatstroke.

a ali Jun 29, 2015 10:13pm

double jeopardy.

first the govt failed to save them, second the govt admitted they don care about homeless people, at all. shame for such statement which left many of us wondering if this is a country or a kingdom of 4/5 people who are playing around with lives, honor, dignity of the nation, a nation which is tested best in crisis.

I hope people will rise to stop such governance in their tracks, before Govt start announcing the deceased with homeless civilians, thus sheltering the civil servants and their families ... for them the rest is garbage. a message without anonymity and semblance of human being. shame on Sindh and Federal Govt for behaving like cults.

Kautiliya Jun 29, 2015 10:33pm

Were these not citizens of Pakistan? Did they not equal rights in-spite being inflicted by poverty and addition? This is a cop out answer by the bureaucrats to save their their skin and their Ministers.

Imran Jun 29, 2015 11:10pm

why they are homeless?????

kumar Jun 29, 2015 11:24pm

“About 60 to 65 per cent of the heatstroke victims were beggars and heroin addicts, street people,” Jam Mehtab Dahar, the provincial health minister told AFP.

If I was a resident of Karachi, I would 1st ask - what have you done for the street people & heroin addicts ?

  • kumar, mumbai
Amarnath Jun 29, 2015 11:28pm

This is expected. During any natural calamity, the first casualities are the poorest people who barely living at the fringes.

El Cid Jun 29, 2015 11:34pm

"Majority of Sindh heatwave victims were homeless: minister"

So the government was trying to reduce the homeless problem, eh!

ibrahim marghoob Jun 29, 2015 11:43pm

Almost all of the religions and specially islam teaches about life after resurection and being answerable for our deeds. Just imagine that ppl are dying since they are homeless and poor. Arent they humans...arent they either sindhi or so called mohajirs..were are the claims by political parties about catering fr the poor and roti kapra makaan

Concern Jun 30, 2015 12:01am

where is roti/kapada/makan

nm Jun 30, 2015 12:08am

Whose responsible for drugs??Public or government??It is solely government's responsibility to stop its export or usage..

a Jun 30, 2015 12:13am

The minister is just pointing out that intense heat wave took away the weakest. The same way cold does.

syed wasim haider Jun 30, 2015 12:59am

@Abdulla Hussain Roti, kaprhaa aur makaan slogan is very much valid even 15 years of PPP government.

syed wasim haider Jun 30, 2015 01:00am

@majid First time came to know that there is a Health Minister in Sind.

Shafiq khan Jun 30, 2015 01:32am

Minister is very clear in his announcement. Homeless and "street people" are not Pakistanis. So he or his government do not have any responsibility for them. Dear honourable Minister, sir, who by thecway is responsible for those unfortunate people ? Sir, while you sleep in your air conditioned place with full pounch , paid by the same people , for whom you do not take responsibility, who is responsibile for their welfare ?

jj Jun 30, 2015 01:47am

Who is to blame for them. It is the governments duty to see their citizens have the basic needs to survive. Pakistani politicians are the best in blaming or pointing their fingers at others.

Shafiq khan Jun 30, 2015 01:48am

@saeeds you Sir are seriously misguided. A population of a country is never a disgrace, it is the government of oligarchs that is a disgrace. THE people whatever their number , if properly educated are an asset for any country. The more there are skillful and employed will produce wealth forcthe country. The ignorant and arrogant leaders are the worst effliction a country can have.

Kala Ingrez - کالا انگریز - काला अंग्रेज - কালো ইংরাজি Jun 30, 2015 02:13am

How owns the electric company? lets list the names of the shareholders and make them accountable for this tragedy in the city?

Mohammad Jun 30, 2015 02:53am

May be small percentage might be homeless, that does not mean they should die. Government should have proper shelters for emergency to keep homeless alive in extreme heat. Blame is continuous, Indian Power plants, No agreement with KE, Homeless people etc. What services were planned in advance to protect people from Disaster? it's just addition of more Taxes on people of Karachi.

Zeeshan Jun 30, 2015 03:21am

Obviously the minister feels the fact they are homeless makes them lesser human and somehow justifies the sheer incompetence of the authorities and public servants like him. His comments need redress and should not be dismissed lightly. The fact they are homeless makes them even deserving of our sympathy and help.

Babu Jun 30, 2015 03:36am

May be he's just stating facts in making the observation that majority affected were street people? It's known that poor, homeless are most at risk from natural calamities and in this case, the risk materialized. Understandably, emotions are high at this high amount of casualties and the states inability to protect them, but a mere statement does not mean justification that he thinks its ok for them to die because they were poor and homeless?

Cyrus Jun 30, 2015 03:58am

The homeless presumably had no air conditioning.

Mansoor Jun 30, 2015 04:37am

So they deserve to die? Last time I check, homeless are human too.

Baba Ladla Jun 30, 2015 04:42am

Thank you for explaining this. Now we don't feel too bad since they are useless people anyway. Their IQ probably is same as politicians and who consider them human anyway.

PK Jun 30, 2015 04:43am

Dear Minister do you think your statement justify the deaths? If I am not mistaken, the slogan of PPP is "Roti, Kapra, Makaan". Then who is responsible to give all this to these poor people. IT'S YOU and your government. Your statement doesn't make sense. They all were Pakistani and above all human beings. In the nut shell, it is your responsibility to provide food, shelter and clean drinking water to all people in your province. If these people were homeless and baggers, and when they were taken to hospitals, we saw what kind of facilities you were providing in hospitals. I think being health minister you should have provided these poor people with all good facilities in hospitals which is your responsibility and that is what you are chosen for and you have to make sure that all hospitals in your province are equipped with modern technology. So please stop blame game and focus on what you have been assigned to do. Very irresponsible statement by a health minister.

Mariya Jun 30, 2015 05:04am

This is just terrible. It is the poor who suffer most always :(

Ahsan Rashid Jun 30, 2015 05:08am

Drug addicts, homeless, beggars, street people are not human ?????

Cyrus Jun 30, 2015 05:57am

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character give him power." Abe Lincoln

sal Jun 30, 2015 06:16am

They are homeless because they do not have jobs. Step up and accept your responsibilities. Provide jobs and shelters to those who are unfortunates.