A heat wave in Karachi, and other districts of Sindh, has killed at least 136 people, where since Saturday, 114 people have died in Karachi alone. With the temperatures rising as high as 45 degrees Celsius, hospitals are being bombarded with patients, suffering from heat stroke, dehydration and low blood pressure, with most of them already succumbing to their deteriorating conditions. With more than150 bodies taken since Saturday to the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth (which usually receives about 20 bodies a day) the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the government for its lacklustre performance in providing water and electricity.
Most of the people that have died, belonged to poor neighbourhoods, lived in small houses and worked on daily wages, with no such casualties being reported in major or private hospitals in Nawabshah, Sukkur and Karachi. Similarly, no deaths or heat-related incidents have been reported from central and southern parts of Sindh.
What have made these high temperatures worse for people are the frequent power outages, where this in turn has crippled Karachi’s water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers. This demand for electricity for air-conditioning, coinciding with increased power needs in Ramazan, is affecting people who are surviving with not more than one fan and no means for back-up electricity. Our Prime Minister, rather than implementing urgent policies or strategies to curb this, has only made a statement, one that has ‘warned’ electric supply companies, that he would not tolerate power outages this month. Why is there once again, not any planning done by the government, to make sure that the common man remains protected in this weather?
Senior doctors in Sindh have stated that most of the people that are brought in at different government hospitals are already dead, with the number of patients suffering from dehydration increasing. With almost 1500 patients brought in within 24 hours, it is high time that the government starts investing in preventing power outages and making sure that the public spaces, especially for the poor are bearable in this devastating weather. It is one things that people are miserable from heat and load-shedding, it is quite another that they are dying of it.