PEOPLE take siestas under the shade of leafy trees in the Frere Hall lawns to get some respite from the scorching heat that the city experienced on Thursday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
PEOPLE take siestas under the shade of leafy trees in the Frere Hall lawns to get some respite from the scorching heat that the city experienced on Thursday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: With a change in the wind direction a continental heatwave engulfed the metropolis, pushing the mercury by over seven degrees Celsius in a day to touch the 44 degree mark on Thursday, said a Meteorological department official. The increased loadshedding and numerous power outages added to the misery of the city’s residents amidst the scorching heat.

The sudden rise in temperature forced many people to remain indoors. Fewer people went out to markets, and vehicles on the roads were also fewer than usual. People in the downtown areas and markets tried to avoid direct exposure to the sun and flocked to the shades and around vendors selling sugarcane juice, sherbets and cold drinks to beat the heat.

Responding to Dawn’s queries, the Met official said that while the rest of the province had been “baking” under the scorching sun for the last many days, the provincial capital being a coastal city had been receiving sea breeze that kept its weather relatively cool. But with the change in the wind direction the supply of sea breeze was cut off and the continental heatwave, mostly coming from Balochistan, made Karachiites experience the intense summer heat.

The official said that the peak of the current heatwave had passed and the temperature was expected to come down gradually. Friday and Saturday were expected to be relatively less hot than Thursday.

The maximum temperature forecast for today is between 41 and 43 degrees Celsius

He said the maximum temperature recorded in the city on Thursday was 44 degrees Celsius (as against 36.6 degrees Celsius — the maximum temperature recorded on Wednesday). He said the minimum temperature recorded was 27 degrees Celsius.

He said humidity — the amount of moisture in the atmosphere — in the morning (as the sea breeze had been entering the city during the night) was 78 per cent but as the day progressed, the wind direction changed and dry continental air entered the metropolis, pulling down the humidity level to 21pc in the evening.

He said the weather in the city on Friday was expected to be hot/very hot and dry and the maximum temperature was expected to remain between 41 and 43 degrees Celsius.

The Met official said that the mercury had touched/crossed the mark of 40 degrees Celsius in the city twice in April when on April 12, 41 degrees Celsius was recorded and on April 23 the maximum temperature recorded was 40 degrees Celsius.

He said almost the entire province remained in the grip of the heatwave and temperature of 40 plus degrees Celsius was recorded in many towns in Sindh.

Nawabshah hottest

He said that Nawabshah was the hottest place in Sindh where 45.5 degrees Celsius was recorded. Some other towns where high temperatures were recorded were: Dadu (45.1 degrees); Moenjodaro (44.5); Larkana (44); Padidan, Sukkur and Sakrand (43.5); Jacobabad, Rohri and Mithi (43); Thatta (42.5); Chhor (42.2); Mirpurkhas (41) and Badin (40).

KE apologises for ‘inconvenience’

A fault in K-Electric’s Bin Qasim power plant left the city already experiencing a heatwave paralysed with prolonged power outages on Thursday.

According to a KE spokesperson, an additional shortfall of 200 megawatts in the system had been caused by the fault. “Due to this additional shortfall, loadshedding in the city is being temporarily increased by two to three hours,” the spokesperson said, adding that KE apologised for the inconvenience.

The power utility also appealed to its consumers to conserve electricity by avoiding unnecessary use of lights and electronic appliances so that all the areas can be given maximum relief.

The increased duration and scope of power outages affected schools and offices alike.

No heatstroke case reported

The provincial authorities taking care of public sector healthcare facilities across the province on Thursday said despite the province-wide extreme heat no case of heatstroke was reported — thanks to the relatively low humidity and measures, as claimed, taken by the authorities.

Officials in the health ministry said that almost entire Sindh had experienced sizzling temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius while it was the hottest day of the season for the provincial capital.

They said heatstroke was avoided because of the low humidity levels as well as increased understanding among the people, especially in the cities, who had earlier witnessed horrible casualties because of the worst heatwave three years ago, most of which were reported in Karachi.

They added hospitals in Sindh had been told to ensure 24/7 emergency care, availability and timely provision of essential medicines, and availability of equipped ambulances. Besides, leaves of staff were cancelled and special wards for managing heatstroke patients were established.

“We have taken all possible measures to cope with any emergencies; fortunately, no case of heatstroke has been reported to us,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), while speaking to Dawn.

She said people came to the hospital because of fatigue and thirst and were given shelter and water requiring no emergency care.

Officials in the health ministry said they had already alerted district and taluka headquarter hospitals across the province where facilities were in place to take care of people affected by heatstroke.

However, they added, no case had landed on their desks showing any case of heatstroke in Sindh.

In the city, there were some places where the administration had made arrangements for people to have water and shelter.

Besides, Home Minister Anwar Siyal asked the police authorities to arrange water for the policemen deputed for field duties with special preference to the traffic police.

Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar cancelled the vacations of doctors and paramedical staff of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s hospital and clinics in the wake of the ongoing heatwave in the city.

The mayor also directed the KMC staff to ensure the provision of first aid and medicines to heatwave-affected people at the KMC-run medical facilities.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2018