Pakistan declares emergency as heatwave death toll rises to 1100
The Pakistani government declares a state of emergency as the ongoing relentless heatwave sweeping Sindh Province in the country’s south claims over 1100 lives in less than a week.
Pakistani Prime Minster Nawaz Shrif issued special instructions to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and other relevant authorities to provide urgent assistance to heatwave victims.
On Wednesday, the government also declared a public holiday in Karachi and other major cities across Sindh Province. Citizens are advised to stay indoors and not expose themselves to the the heat unless on essential business.
The development comes as hospitals in Pakistan are struggling to cope with thousands more victims of the soaring temperatures.
Pakistani officials say the death toll from the stifling heatwave has now climbed to over 830, adding that the number of fatalities may rise further.
The majority of the deaths happened in the port city of Karachi, the country's largest city and provincial capital of Sindh, where the temperature reached 45 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on the weekend.
At least 780 people have died in Karachi since Friday and about 50 people have lost their lives in other areas across Sindh Province due to heat-related illnesses.
Medical sources say more than 3,000 patients have been treated in the Post-Graduate Medical College Hospital, Karachi's largest.
“We are continuously receiving people in a critical condition or dead,” Dr. Seemin Jamali, the director of the hospital, as saying.
According to Anwaar Kazmi, a spokesman for Pakistan's largest charity, Edhi Welfare Organization, soaring temperatures have claimed about 1,500 lives in Karachi and 500 in other parts of southern Sindh Province over the past two weeks.
"There is no space left in the government hospitals to keep the dead bodies," said Kazmi, who runs the largest private ambulance service in Karachi .
Local media reports also indicate that seven people have also died from the heat in the eastern province of Punjab over the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, anger is boiling against the government over its mishandling of the heatwave crisis.
Protests have also erupted over power blackouts as soaring temperatures have led to a surge in power demand. Multiple daily power outages have prevented people from using fans and air-conditioning across Pakistan.
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