Pakistan heat wave worst in 35 years, claims more than 1,000 lives

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More than 1,000 people have been killed in the worst heat wave to hit Karachi for nearly 35 years, as public hospitals struggled to cope with the rush.

The heat wave coupled with sever power cuts left many without fans, water or light, leaving many suffering, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims don’t eat or drink during daylight hours.

Some shops refused to sell ice or water during the day, citing religious laws. It is also illegal to eat or drink in public from dawn to dusk.

An inflow of bodies into morgues forced medical officials to store bodies in body bags on the floor, said Anwar Kazmi, a senior official of charitable organisation Edhi Foundation.

Air conditioning units at the morgue have stopped working. Such is the rush. Apart from blaming others, the provincial government has done nothing, he said , he said.

“We pay the doctors and staff of government hospitals who are working 24X7 treating patients,” he said. “The Sindh government has done nothing except blame K-electric for the deaths.”

K-electric is a private power company that supplies power to Karachi. It says the government owes it $1 billion in unpaid power bills.

The weekend was the hottest since 1981. Forecasters have predicted rain for days, but there is no fall in temperature,” said the meteorological department.

“The death toll from the heat wave has crossed 1,000 mark. Most deaths took place at government-run hospitals and some in private hospitals,” said Kazmi, apart from unreported deaths.

Since the crisis hit, the provincial government has ordered shops, marriage halls and restaurants to close early and announced a one-day government holiday. But all of these have no relation with heat strokes, the daily newspaper Dawn said.

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