Pakistan declares state of emergency after heatwave kills over 700

2015-06-24 13:00
Pakistani relatives shift a heatstroke victim to a hospital in Karachi. (Rizwan Tabassum, AFP)

Pakistani relatives shift a heatstroke victim to a hospital in Karachi. (Rizwan Tabassum, AFP)

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Islamabad - The government on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Karachi, Pakistan's largest southern city, after a heatwave killed more than 700 people there and left thousands fighting for their lives at hospitals.

More than 700 people have died in the port city since Friday, said Jam Mehtab Dahar, health minister of southern province of Sindh.

The hospitals were overflowing with thousands of patients suffering heat stroke and heat exhaustion who were being driven in by long queues of ambulances, Dahar said. Morgues were also at capacity, he said.

Television footage showed victims lying on the floor at hospitals and medics running from one patient to another to save their lives.

Doctors from army and civilian rescue agencies have set up dozens of temporary medical camps to treat people with dehydration and heat stroke, the military said.

The death toll was expected to rise because about 10 000 people were being treated at hospitals, said Ijaz Afzal, a director at the provincial health ministry.  

The temperature in the city has been hovering around 45°C for three days, said Ghulam Rasool, director general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

Nearly all the deaths occurred because of heat stroke and exhaustion, said Dr Seemin Jamali at Karachi's Jinnah Hospital, where most of the dead have been taken.

About two dozen people died in other parts of Sindh province, said Meraj Ahmed, a rescue worker at the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's largest charity.

The heatwave caused nearly a dozen deaths in southern parts of the central province of Punjab, said Dr Naseer Ahmed of the Rescue 1122 Service.

Thundershowers and a spell of pre-monsoon rains were expected to start Tuesday night, bringing some relief, Rasool said.

Nearly 2 500 people died in April and May because of a heatwave in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telagana in India, Pakistan's eastern neighbour.

Read more on:    pakistan  |  natural disasters

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