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Scorching Heat And Power Outages: Pakistan's Struggle Amid Deadly Heatwave

Pakistan is currently experiencing a severe heatwave, with record-breaking temperatures causing significant disruption to both lives and infrastructure. Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, has been enduring extreme heat since Saturday, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius for the third consecutive day. High humidity levels are exacerbating the situation, according to reports. In the last […]

Heatwave (Rep. Image)
Heatwave (Rep. Image)

Pakistan is currently experiencing a severe heatwave, with record-breaking temperatures causing significant disruption to both lives and infrastructure.

Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, has been enduring extreme heat since Saturday, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius for the third consecutive day. High humidity levels are exacerbating the situation, according to reports.

In the last four days, around 450 people have lost their lives due to the high temperatures, a prominent NGO reported on Wednesday. Thousands more have been hospitalized with heatstroke.

Hospitals 

Hospitals and clinics in Pakistan are overwhelmed as they try to manage the surge in heat-related illnesses.

Dr. Imran Sarwar Sheikh, head of the emergency department at the state-run Civil Hospital Karachi, reported admitting 267 people with heatstroke between Sunday and Wednesday, with twelve of them succumbing to the condition.

“Most of the people who we saw coming into the hospital were in their 60s or 70s, although there were some around 45 and even a couple in their 20s,” Dr Sheikh told the BBC.

Local media reported that over 1,500 heatstroke victims were treated at various hospitals in Karachi on Monday alone. Patients displayed symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and high fever.

“Many of those we saw had been working outside. We’ve told them to make sure they drink plenty of water and wear light clothes in these high temperatures,” Dr Sheikh advised.

Mounting dead bodies

The Edhi Foundation, which runs Pakistan’s largest ambulance service, informed the AP that they usually transport around 30 to 40 bodies to the Karachi city morgue each day. However, over the past six days, they have collected approximately 568 bodies, including 141 on Tuesday alone, according to the BBC.

Faisal Edhi, head of the foundation, stated in a PTI report, “We have four mortuaries operating in Karachi and we have reached a stage where there is no more space to keep more bodies in our mortuaries.”

The Dawn reported that emergency services discovered nearly 30 people dead on Karachi’s streets on Monday. According to Police Surgeon Summaiya Syed, many of these victims are believed to be homeless drug addicts. Additionally, the Sindh government released 23 bodies from three government hospitals on Tuesday.

Karachi is home to millions of migrants from other parts of Pakistan, as well as from Afghanistan and some African countries. Among them are hundreds of thousands of drug addicts who live on the streets.

“The extreme heat wave got to them as these people spend their entire day out in the open searching for fixes,” he said only to add: “But only the government hospitals or where they were initially taken to can tell you the real cause of death.”

The Edhi Foundation offers various free or subsidized services to the poor, homeless, orphaned street children, abandoned babies, and abused women. “The sad fact is that many of these bodies have come from areas where a lot of load shedding is going on even in this harshest weather,” he said.

Excruciating power cuts

Pakistan has been struggling to meet the soaring demand for electricity amid extreme heat, resulting in regular power cuts that leave many without fans and air conditioning.

Muhammad Amin, a man in his 40s, was one of the many affected by these outages. His relatives told the BBC that their flat frequently experienced power cuts. One day, Muhammad suddenly fell ill and passed away. Although the exact cause of death has not been confirmed, his family believes it was heat-related.

According to The Express Tribune, the nationwide demand for electricity has surged to 26,500 megawatts, while the production capacity is only 20,253 megawatts, leading the electricity board to implement deliberate power rationing.

Karachi Electric, the city’s power supplier, claims it must enforce power cuts because the Sindh government has yet to clear dues amounting to Rs 10 billion.

Reports indicate that load shedding of up to six hours is being enforced nationwide, with power outages extending to 12 to 14 hours in areas with high line losses.

Weather forecasters predict that the heatwave, which began in May, will likely subside next week, offering some relief to Pakistanis.

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HeatwavePakistanPower OutagesTDGThe Daily Guardian