Deadly heat wave kills 650 in Pakistan
Published 23/06/2015 | 18:31
A scorching heat wave across southern Pakistan's city of Karachi has killed at least 622 people, authorities said.
The heat wave coincides with major power cuts, leading to harsh criticism of the provincial government and K-electric , the company that supplies electricity to Karachi, the country's richest city and home to 20 million people.
One of Karachi's biggest public hospitals said all its beds were full, with more than 200 people dying there of dehydration or heat exhaustion.
"Some were brought in dead, while others died during treatment," said Dr Seemin Jamali, joint director at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.
Civil Hospital was also full of heatstroke patients. A few old fans blew the sweltering air past stray cats sprawled in the dark corridors as friends of an unconscious policeman rushed outside to buy him the cold water the hospital could not provide.
"This is how it is. No one cares for common poor man here," Khadim Ali complained as he fanned his cousin, Shahad Ali, a 40-year-old vegetable vendor who collapsed in the heat.
Senior provincial health official Saeed Mangnejo said he expects the number of fatalities to climb further.
Temperatures have touched 44 degrees Celsius in the steamy port city in recent days, up from a normal summer temperature of 37 C.
"A sea breeze will set in some time tonight. The temperature will come down as the monsoon rain enters the Sindh coast, bringing rain to the city," said Ghulam Rasool, director general of the Meteorological Department.
A morgue run by the charity Edhi Foundation had received more than 400 people who died of complications from the heat, official Anwar Kazmi told Reuters.
A full tally of deaths in the province was not available.
The paramilitary Rangers force has set up medical camps at several points in the city where they are providing water and anti-dehydration salts.
The provincial government is being increasingly criticized by opposition parties for not managing the crisis, which has been exacerbated by severe power cuts.
One lawmaker suggested that the parliament should turn off its air-conditioning for an hour to show solidarity with the people.
The electricity grid has been overwhelmed as people switch on fans and air conditioners, and as families all begin to cook at the same time.
The holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours, began on Friday.
It is tradition for families to break their fast together.