Karachi: Over 1,200 people have died in Pakistan’s Sindh province due to a heatwave described as the worst in decades, as major hospitals in the country’s largest city struggled to cope with the unprecedented influx of patients seeking treatment for heatstroke-related illness. The death toll in worst-hit Karachi, Sindh’s provincial capital, has reached 1,000, with more than 200 people reported dead in other parts of the province.
Anwar Kazmi of Edhi Foundation, which runs the largest ambulance service in the region, told PTI that death toll in Karachi, a metropolis of over 18 million people, has reached 1,000. “At least 1,000 have been killed in Karachi only. I do not have data of rest of Sindh province but there are reports of deaths,” he said.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said that more than 200 have died in the interior areas of Sindh due to the intense heatwave. Sindh government has declared public holiday today in a bid to keep people indoors away from the heat. The biggest state-owned hospital in Karachi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, has reported a death toll of 325 people, many of them who died while being treated for illnesses from the heatwave. The combined death toll at other hospitals run by Karachi Municipal Corporation has also risen to at least 340.
A state of emergency is in force in all hospitals, which are struggling to cope with a sudden influx of patients affected by heatstroke, exhaustion and low blood pressure. The provincial government has cancelled leave for doctors and other staff and is increasing stocks of medical supplies.
Temperatures of 44-45 degrees Celsius have been recorded in Karachi since Friday. The weather outlook for Sindh remains hot and humid, while rain is expected in parts of the province and in isolated areas in Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad and Karachi.
Temperatures today came down to 34 degrees Celsius as a relatively cool sea breeze started blowing yesterday evening. The Pakistan Army and paramilitary Rangers have also set up special centres for treatment of heatstroke victims and is supplying medicines to government-run hospitals.
Chief Minister Shah has ordered schools, colleges and government offices to remain shut as an apparent means to alleviate the suffering of those hit by the extreme heat. “We are closing offices, schools and colleges not just in Karachi but throughout Sindh,” Shah said in the Sindh Assembly. But he said offices that offer essential services like hospitals will remain open.