By Asad Hashim
23 May 2018
Death toll expected to climb, officials say, as heatwave coincides with Ramadan and electricity cuts.
Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 60 people have died of heat-related illnesses in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in the last four days, rescue officials say, as temperatures soared to 44 degrees Celsius in the country’s largest city.
The spike in temperatures has coincided with the month of Ramadan, with Muslims who fast in the coastal metropolis taking no food or water for almost 15 hours every day.
Most of those who have died so far during the heat wave were elderly or had existing health complications, said Faisal Edhi, chief of the Edhi Foundation rescue service, on Wednesday.
In June 2015, more than 1,200 people died of heat-related illnesses in Karachi during a similar heat wave.
The intense heat and deaths this year have sparked concerns that the situation could spiral, as it did during the 2015 heat wave, when hospital officials said that mortuaries were overflowing and public sector hospitals were overwhelmed with thousands of patients every day.
“There is no awareness among people that they must not enter the direct sunlight, and need to keep their skin moist as this is a very dry heat,” Edhi told Al Jazeera by telephone.
Prolonged power outages have also plagued parts of the city, as electricity consumption has risen, further exacerbating citizens’ woes.