About 400 people, including women and children, have been killed in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi due to the country’s worst heat wave in more than a decade, as the government called in the army to deal with the crippling crisis.
The heat wave, sweeping across the Sindh province, has been going on since the start of Ramzan on Friday, wreaking havoc and triggering an emergency situation in major hospitals of the province.
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Three major state-owned hospitals confirmed a combined death toll of 341 until Monday. Hospitals reported deaths due to heat stroke, exhaustion and low blood pressure.
“We had until yesterday evening nearly 200 deaths from this heat wave,” said Seemi Jamali, medical superintendent at Jinnah Hospital.
“These 200 include dead bodies we have got from the scorching heatwave and those who passed away in the hospital while under treatment for heatstroke and dehydration,” she said.
Jamali said the hospital had in four days treated around 3,000 people suffering from illnesses related to the heatwave.
Doctors at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital said 71 people had died due to the heat wave until Monday. Saeed Qureshi, a doctor at the Civil hospital, confirmed 70 deaths.
“There have been deaths from the heat wave at other hospitals also and the death toll is close to 400 now,” Qureshi said.
The Sindh government has imposed a state of emergency at all hospitals, cancelling leave for doctors and other medical staff and is increasing stocks of medical supplies.
The Pakistan Army and paramilitary Rangers have also set up special centres for treatment of heat stroke victims and also supplied related medicines to government hospitals.
Most of the deaths have occurred due to heat and gastro-related problems, said Salma Kausar, spokesperson Karachi Medical Corporation.
She said 14 women and two children were among those who died on Monday.
Saqib Zeeshan, a spokesman for Indus Hospital, said 20 people had died of heat-related complications at the hospital till Monday. The Sindh health minister said at least 15 deaths had been registered at Lyari General Hospital.
According to Liaquat National Hospital representative Anjum Rizvi 22 people lost their lives in the past 72 hours, while Khalid Masood, spokesman for Qatar Hospital, said 24 people were reported dead at the hospital.