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In this picture taken on September 2, 2019 children cool off in a pond of rain and waste water in Karachi. - Swarms of flies, water-borne illnesses, and rivers of sewage have brought Pakistan's Karachi to its knees this rainy season as decades of mismanagement have turned the country’s commercial capital into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. (Photo by RIZWAN TABASSUM / AFP) / To go with 'PAKISTAN-HEALTH-WEATHER-FLIES,SCENE' by Ashraf KHAN — AFP or licensors

Flies overwhelm Karachi in monsoon 'hell'

“I have never seen such a fierce presence of flies in my life,” says one 45-year-old resident.
Published Sep 08, 2019 12:12am

Swarms of flies are descending on Karachi in what residents say are record numbers this rainy season, adding to the misery of the city's monsoon “hell”.

Heavy rains have inundated the sprawling port city of nearly 20 million people for weeks, overwhelming shoddy drainage systems clogged with mountains of uncollected garbage and flooding neighbourhoods with raw sewage.

“I have never seen such a fierce presence of flies in my life,” Karachi resident Abdul Aziz, 45, told AFP.

“Clouds of flies keep covering the food at the market. It's repulsive — they cover the fruit so much that you can't see beneath them.”

In this picture taken on September 2, a vendor arranges grapes as flies swarm around his cart in a slum area in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 2, a vendor arranges grapes as flies swarm around his cart in a slum area in Karachi. — AFP

In this picture taken on August 31, 2019 flies sit on rice being sold at a market in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on August 31, 2019 flies sit on rice being sold at a market in Karachi. — AFP

At a market in Surjani town, meat trader Zahid Ali looked on as flies engulfed the area.

“If the customers come, they impulsively leave after seeing the swarms of flies,” said Ali, adding that an increasing number of people working in the market had fallen ill.

In this picture taken on August 31, a butcher cuts up pieces of chicken as flies sit on the meat in a market in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on August 31, a butcher cuts up pieces of chicken as flies sit on the meat in a market in Karachi. — AFP

In this picture taken on August 31, a butcher's stall is pictured next to a street flooded with rainwater in a market in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on August 31, a butcher's stall is pictured next to a street flooded with rainwater in a market in Karachi. — AFP

Shershah Syed, a health rights activist and prominent surgeon in Karachi, said many illnesses were on the rise because of flies and mosquitoes.

“This time (the flies are) the worst ever as rain water is unable to drain and the garbage heaps are not dealt with,” Syed said.

“The number of children entering hospitals for diarrhea or dysentery has jumped several fold this year. The number of children — who are the most vulnerable to the fly-borne diseases — has increased by about 10 times.”

In this picture taken on September 2, a stray dog (top L) cools itself in a pond of drainage and rainwater full of flies (C) in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 2, a stray dog (top L) cools itself in a pond of drainage and rainwater full of flies (C) in Karachi. — AFP

In this picture taken on September 2, a child eats grapes as flies swarm around her in a slum area in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 2, a child eats grapes as flies swarm around her in a slum area in Karachi. — AFP

In this picture taken on September 4, a family rides past a garbage dump at a residential area in Pakistan's port city of Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 4, a family rides past a garbage dump at a residential area in Pakistan's port city of Karachi. — AFP

While Karachi is responsible for 60 per cent of Pakistan's economic output, the city has long endured creaky infrastructure, illegal construction and failing municipal services.

This week, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Karachi as one of the least liveable cities in the world along with the likes of war-torn Libya's Tripoli and the crisis-hit Venezuelan capital Caracas.

In this picture taken on September 4, a municipal worker fumigates against flies and mosquitoes on a street in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 4, a municipal worker fumigates against flies and mosquitoes on a street in Karachi. — AFP

In this picture taken on September 4, municipal workers use a vehicle to fumigate a residential area in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 4, municipal workers use a vehicle to fumigate a residential area in Karachi. — AFP

“People in Karachi are numb to the idea of living with medical waste, overflowing gutters, broken down roads, and a complete lack of any kind of respectable public transport system,” wrote Saadat Ali Zia on Twitter.

“We live in hell,” tweeted Farooq Afridi.

In this picture taken on September 2, residents walk along a muddy street wet from rainwater in Karachi. — AFP
In this picture taken on September 2, residents walk along a muddy street wet from rainwater in Karachi. — AFP