Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Deadly Pakistan heatwave shows signs of easing

A deadly heatwave that has killed nearly 700 people in southern Pakistan showed signs of easing on Wednesday, bringing some respite to the sweltering city of Karachi.

Temperatures in the city, which is Pakistan's largest and has seen the majority of the deaths, were forecast to peak at 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit), down from the 40-plus highs of recent days.

Winds have shifted to the southwest, blowing cooler air into the port city from the Arabian Sea, and the Pakistani Met Office has predicted rain, which would bring lower temperatures.

The government has demanded urgent action to deal with the crisis, and the administration in Sindh province declared Wednesday a public holiday to encourage people to stay indoors out of the sun.

Some residents on Tuesday took to hosing each other down with water to avoid collapsing from heat stroke.

A state of emergency is in force in hospitals which are struggling to cope with the 3,000 people affected by heatstroke and dehydration.

The change in weather will come as welcome relief for the economic hub, where maximum temperatures have hovered around 44-45 degrees C since Saturday.

The National Disaster Management Authority has been setting up dedicated heatstroke treatment centres to try to cope with the volume of patients.

Blasting summer heat is not unusual in Pakistan, and some parts of the country regularly experience higher temperatures than those seen in Karachi this week, without serious loss of life.

But this year's heatwave has coincided with the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, during which millions of devout Pakistanis abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.

The majority of the deaths in Karachi have been among the poor and manual labourers who work outdoors, prompting clerics to urge those at risk of heatstroke not to fast.

The situation has not been helped by power cuts -- a regular feature of life in Pakistan -- which have stopped fans and air conditioners from working.

Electricity shortages have crippled the water supply system in Karachi, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers, the state-run water utility said.



  1. Rains cool Pakistan as heat wave's death toll climbs to 838...

    A cool wind from the sea and pre-monsoon rains brought the first signs of respite to southern Pakistan on Wednesday as the death toll from a scorching heat wave climbed to 838 - a high figure even for a nation accustomed to sizzling hot summers.

    Temperatures in hard-hit Karachi, the country's largest city and its commercial hub, dropped to 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit), meteorologist Abdur Rasheed said.

    The drop likely marked the end of the heat wave that began Sunday. Hospital officials said admittances were lower Wednesday than in previous days, when dehydrated patients lay in corridors and outside on the streets.

    The port city has been in the epicenter of the heat wave, dubbed worst in at least a decade, with temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Hours-long power outages, little running water and the majority of people fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan had worsened the situation further.

    Karachi is the capital of southern Sindh province and is home to some 20 million people. It suffers under an inefficient power grid and a shortage of potable water. The power outages have also affected the city's sporadic water supply, forcing those who can afford it rely on tankers of water being delivered to their

  2. Ο καύσωνας που πλήττει τις τελευταίες ημέρες το νότιο Πακιστάν και είναι ο χειρότερος εδώ και σχεδόν 35 χρόνια έχει στοιχίσει τη ζωή σε περισσότερους από 1.000 ανθρώπους, σύμφωνα με νέο απολογισμό που δημοσιοποιήθηκε την Πέμπτη από τα νοσοκομεία και τις τοπικές μη κυβερνητικές οργανώσεις...

    Οι περισσότεροι από τους θανάτους σημειώθηκαν στο Καράτσι, τη μεγαλύτερη πόλη της χώρας με περίπου 20 εκατ. κατοίκους, όπου η αποπνικτική θερμοκρασία έφθασε τους 45 βαθμούς Κελσίου, πριν πέσει από χθες, Τετάρτη.

    Τα νεκροτομεία δεν έχουν πλέον χώρο για να υποδεχθούν σορούς. Ο καύσωνας πλήττει περισσότερο τους πιο φτωχούς από τους κατοίκους, κυρίως τους επαίτες και όσους εργάζονται στο ύπαιθρο.

    Παρόλο που η κατάσταση βελτιώθηκε από την Τετάρτη με την πτώση της θερμοκρασίας, θύματα του καύσωνα συνεχίζουν να συρρέουν στα νοσοκομεία και άλλα κέντρα φροντίδας, τα οποία έχουν επιστρατεύσει φοιτητές της Ιατρικής που εργάζονται επιπλέον σε βάρδιες. Σε πολλά δημόσια νοσοκομεία πολίτες αφήνουν φορτία με παγωμένο νερό και άλλα εφόδια.

    Τουλάχιστον 1.079 θάνατοι έχουν καταγραφεί από το περασμένο Σαββατοκύριακο στα κύρια νοσοκομεία του Καράτσι, σύμφωνα με καταμέτρηση που έγινε το μεσημέρι της Πέμπτης από δημοσιογράφο του Γαλλικού Πρακτορείου........


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