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Karachi heatwave kills 1300

03 July 2015


Overcome: a man suffering from heatstroke waits for medical help at a hospital in Karachi on Friday

Overcome: a man suffering from heatstroke waits for medical help at a hospital in Karachi on Friday

A WEEK-LONG heatwave in Karachi, Pakistan, is thought to have killed more than 1300 people, among whom were the elderly, and the homeless living on the streets.

Tens of thousands more have suffered from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Temperatures peaked at 45°C, but have now begun to fall to about 38°C.

The government said on Monday that 75 per cent of the fatalities were among "street people" who had little access to shelter or safe drinking water. The situation is said to have been worsened because it is Ramadan, when Muslims fast from food and water during daylight hours.

Muslim clerics, however, have appeared on television to remind people that they do not have to fast if they are not fit to do so.

Prolonged electricity strikes have also meant that people have been unable to use their air conditioning and fans. Refrigeration units in morgues were also reported to have stopped working.

The Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, called for emergency measures last week when temperatures reached 45°C. The all-time highest recorded temperature in Karachi is 47°C, a figure recorded in 1979.

Heat-stroke centres have been set up by the army, offering iced water and rehydration salts.

The Bishop of Hyderabad, the Rt Revd Kaleem John, asked for prayers for Sindh province, which, he said, was "experiencing the practical effects of global warming in the form of a record-breaking heatwave.

"We, at the diocese, believe that, through our prayers, our God, who is the God of miracles, can change the current severe weather from 'lives claiming' to 'lives refreshing'."

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