KARACHI: A heat wave has killed almost 600 people in Pakistan’s south over the past three days, with paramilitary forces beginning to set up emergency medical camps in the streets, health officials have said.
Hospitals have been swamped with people suffering from heatstroke and dehydration, while repeated power outages have left many without air conditioning or running water.
The electricity grid, run by a private company, K-electric, has been overwhelmed as people switch on fans and air conditioners, and as families begin to cook at the same time during the month of Ramadan.
Electricity cuts in turn crippled Karachi’s water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of litres of water to consumers, the state-run water utility said.
On Monday, paramilitary Rangers force set up medical camps at several points in Karachi where they were providing water and anti-dehydration salts.
While temperatures in Karachi itself touched 46C in recent days, up from a normal summer temperature of 37C, meteorologists said rain was on its way.
“We are anticipating a sea breeze will set in some time [on Tuesday night]. The temperature will come down as the monsoon rain enters the Sindh coast, bringing rain to the city,” Ghulam Rasool, director-general of the Meteorological Department, said on Tuesday.
Last month, soaring temperatures during a weeks-long heat wave caused water shortages in thousands of villages in India, killing at least 1,826 people.
The heat wave covered a huge swath of India from Tamil Nadu in the south to the Himalayan foothill state of Himachal Pradesh.