The death toll from a devastating heatwave that has gripped Sindh since the advent of Ramzan crossed the 400 mark on Monday, health authorities have claimed.
According to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) Medical Superintendent Dr Imran Samdani, seven people lost their lives on Monday. The deaths are said to have occurred due to heat and gastro-related problems. Earlier, it was reported that 30 people, including 12 women and two children, had died in ASH on Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, Karachi’s Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Emergency Department Head Seemin Jamali claimed that more than 50 people died since Sunday night. Earlier Saturday night, 85 people were said to have died at JPMC. According to latest figures, a total of 141 people have been recorded dead at JPMC due to heat-related symptoms in the past three days.
Moreover, Professor N Saeed Qureshi from Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) said there have been six more deaths at the hospital on Monday, taking the death toll at CHK to 35.
Furthermore, Sindh’s health official Dr Sabir Memon said the death toll was 180 and warned it was likely to rise in the evening. An AFP tally based on information from five hospitals around Karachi suggested the toll there could be as high as 249.
Meanwhile, Edhi Mortuary’s spokesman said that around 400 dead bodies had been submitted to the welfare centre in the past 48 hours. He said the morgue had reached its capacity and could not accommodate more dead bodies.
Edhi’s Sohrab Goth morgue has received around 200 dead bodies in the past 24 hours alone, said head of the facility, Muhammad Bilal. He said these included those who died due to heatstroke as well as others who expired because of various diseases and natural causes.
“We have been telling people not to bring dead bodies since last night but despite that they are coming. We cannot accommodate more dead bodies,” he said.
The Sindh provincial government has imposed a state of emergency at all hospitals, cancelling leave for doctors and other medical staff and increasing stocks of medical supplies.
According to earlier reports, at least 132 people had lost their lives due to the intense weather — most of whom were pronounced dead at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), officials had said.
In the meanwhile, at least four people lost their lives as temperatures soared in the Daska. The dead included two women. Hundreds of birds and dozens cattle also fallen prey to present heat wave in Daska where mercury reached up to 43 degrees Celsius.
A DISMAL STATE:
In Karachi, electricity shortages have crippled the water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers, the state-run water utility said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday expressed profound grief and sorrow over the deaths caused by the heatwave in Karachi and directed doctors and medics to provide the best medical care to those affected.
According to a statement issued by the PM Office, the premier also directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to immediately start relief measures for members of the public. He stressed that provincial and federal government agencies must immediately launch a campaign to create awareness among ordinary people about the precautionary measures that can be adopted during extreme weather conditions. He also instructed relevant authorities to ensure best treatment to the victims of the intense heatwave.
As the death toll from a devastating heatwave rises, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast pre-monsoon winds and light showers in the province starting June 23 (today).
PMD Director General Dr Ghulam Rasool said on Monday that pre-monsoon winds would enter Sindh on June 23 during night time and bring light rain in the province.
The pre-monsoon showers would start in different parts of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh from June 23 onwards, bringing down day temperatures, he said.
Dr Rasool indicated chances of rain in different parts of Sindh, Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Malakand and Peshawar and Punjab including Rawalpindi, Lahore and Gujranwala division during the period. He said frequent rains were expected during the whole month of Ramazan with occasional gaps, adding that the weather would remain pleasant.
About the situation in Karachi, he said the hot weather in the metropolis was due to a disconnect in the sea breeze owing to low air pressure in the Arabian Sea.
The direction of the air moving from land to sea reversed; it is now flowing from sea to land which has caused the low pressure, Dr Rasool said. He said sea breeze was a blessing for the people of Karachi for if it did not exist, temperatures could rise over 50 degrees Celsius.
AT THE ASSEMBLY:
In the meanwhile, amidst protests in the Sindh Assembly, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Khawaja Izharul Hasan on Monday hit out at the provincial and federal governments as well as K-Electric over the heatwave in Karachi.
Addressing the Sindh Assembly, a furious Hasan said that K-Electric managed to reap hundreds and thousands of rupees through billing and carried out various operations like Operation Burq (crackdown against power theft) with the help of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) but did not have enough sense to manage people.
“Crises and difficulties tell you about governments; crises tell you about the functioning of various departments,” said Hasan.