Another 66 dead in Pakistan due to heat wave

Week-long heat wave continues to claim lives in southern Pakistan, with 300 unidentified bodies buried in Sindh

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A non-profit social welfare programme in Pakistan, the Edhi foundation, announced that they buried more than 300 unidentified corpses on Saturday evening as a sweltering heat wave is continuing to claim lives.

The ongoing heat wave killed 55 in Karachi and 11 in the Tharparkar, Hyderabad, Badin, Thatta and Jacobabad districts of Sindh province on Saturday, according to the foundation.

The last 66 deaths has brought the total number of the fatalities resulting from the heat wave to 1,276 in the southern part of the country since June 20, according to figures released by the Sindh health department on Saturday.

“So far 1,276 people have died in Sindh, of whom 1,186 belong to Karachi,” a senior official from Sindh health department told reporters.

Officials from the Edhi Foundation said corpses are flowing to the morgues, while more than 30 unidentified bodies were received by the foundation from different hospitals due to local moorgues are overflowing. There were no claimants for the corpses.

On Saturday evening, the foundation buried almost 160 unclaimed and unidentified corpses, following the burial of 140 other unclaimed bodies on Friday.

“We have recalculated the number of unclaimed bodies of heatstroke victims at our morgue and found that they were around 300,” said Anwer Kazmi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation.

Before the corpses arrived the morgue, many of them had already decomposed at the hospitals due to the excessive heat in previous days, Kazmi added.

Kazmi is also trying to help families in the identification of the bodies.

“Some of them could not be identified, but many had still retained their features,” he said.

“Around 40 such bodies were claimed by their relatives. We have buried all of them but a few who would be buried tomorrow if no relative emerges,” he added.

According to doctors from several hospitals in the province, the dead emerged mostly from the poor part of the society.

“Most of them wore washed-out clothes and worn-out flip-flops. They were malnourished and physically weak,” said Dr Saeed Qureshi, who heads the Civil Hospital Karachi.

Some of the victims were drug addicts who lived under the bridges, near drains and on footpaths, Quarashi said.

Officials from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which runs a wide number of medical facilities in Karachi, said that they received several people who lived inside little shelters in public areas to protect themselves from the burning sun.  

“They included a number of beggars, some of them were brought to hospitals with their begging bowls,” said a senior official from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, adding that families of the many beggars identified and took their bodies.

During the weeklong heat wave, 65,000 heatstroke incidents had been treated by the doctors in Karachi hospitals, according to Nazar Mohammad Bozdar, the operations director at the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

"The government quickly responded by making arrangements for the treatment of heatstroke patients and the situation has improved now," he said.

The temperature dropped off to 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) a week after the heat metres indicated 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), as residents spent their night in the streets and power outages occurred as a result of the heat wave in Karachi.

The deadly heat wave hit the country during Islamic holy month of Ramadan, as many Pakistani Muslims are practicing their religious duties of fasting from dawn till dusk.

TRTWorld and agencies