Faisal Edhi, head of Edhi Foundation, has reported that the foundation’s morgues in Korangi and Sohrab Goth received up to 65 dead bodies over this past weekend. All deaths are claimed to have resulted from heatstroke. The age range for the deceased is about 16 to 78 years.
The city has been experiencing an intense heatwave since the past week, with temperatures in Karachi soaring up to 44 degrees Celsius. Surrounding areas also experienced the heatwave with temperatures in the 40s. And it is said that Sindh will have to put up with this till Thursday this week, after which the Pakistan Metrological Department has claimed the weather will cool down.
The claims made regarding the victims of heatstroke, however, have been contested by a number of medical officials. Sindh Health Secretary Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho “categorically rejected” these claims, saying the heatwave was not the cause of death for any of the victims. This was backed up by Seemin Jamali, Executive Director at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), who confirmed that the JPMC had not received a heatstroke patient as of yet.
Upon questioning the families of the deceased, however, Edhi asserts that most of them believe their relatives died due to the combination of heat and absence of any sort of cooling system due to constant load-shedding. It should also be noted that most of them were observing fasts as well, and thus deprived of water since morning.
Health officials claimed that special wards had been set up for potential heatstroke patients, and the government had set measures in place such as ensuring that ambulances were fully equipped and ready to go. However, most of the relatives of the deceased said they could not reach the hospital in time to receive care.
There is a need for the government to do more in this situation. It may only be bad luck that this heatwave is coinciding with both Ramadan and the technical issues at Bin Qasim Power Plant, which are necessitating load-shedding; but what is really being done to reduce the strain on citizens?