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Monday July 22, 2024

13 more bodies found as Karachi swelters at 43.7°C

By Faraz Khan
June 25, 2024
A representational image showing multiple ambulances at an undisclosed location. — Online/File
A representational image showing multiple ambulances at an undisclosed location. — Online/File 

Thirteen more bodies were found in Karachi as the city sweltered at 43.7°C on Monday, bringing the total number of heat-related deaths since Sunday to 27. Karachi Police Surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed confirmed that four people died due to heatstroke.

Dr Summaiya said they received a total of four bodies: two at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and two at Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi. “They were referred to the ML Section because they were unidentified.”

An Edhi spokesperson said that four more bodies were found in the city. One was of a man aged around 50 years who was found near UP Morr in North Karachi. The deceased was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), then moved to the morgue pending identification.

The body of a woman aged around 30 years was found in Orangi Town’s Faqir Colony. The deceased was taken to ASH. Another body of a woman aged around 50 years was found near Green Town in Shah Faisal Colony. The deceased was taken to the JPMC.

A decomposing body of 50-year-old Asif was found in the early hours in Korangi’s Allah Wala Town. The deceased was moved to the morgue. The spokesperson said that both men were apparently drug addicts.

According to Chhipa sources, nine more bodies were found from different areas of the city. The body of a man who appeared to be aged 70 years was found near Model Park in Mehmoodabad No. 5.

The body of a man who appeared to be aged 45 years was found in the Frere Hall Park in Civil Lines. The body of a man who appeared to be aged 90 years was found inside the Qatar Hospital in Orangi Town.

The body of a man who appeared to be aged 50 years was found near the Surgical Market in Saddar. The body of Zubair Abbas, 32, was found near the Sunday Market in New Karachi Sector 11-D.

The body of Sultan Pashminzada, 40, was found near the Gul Ahmed Company at Landhi Hospital Chowrangi. The body of a man who appeared to be aged 60 years was found near Munawar Chowrangi in Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 11.

The body of a man who appeared to be aged 45 years was found in the Old Golimar area. The body of a man who appeared to be aged 55 years was found near the Magnet Mall in Karimabad.

Experts warn that if the extreme heat persists, the number of fatalities is likely to increase further. They stress the need for immediate measures to address the heatwave and provide relief to vulnerable populations, particularly those struggling with addiction, to prevent more deaths.

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the maximum temperature in the city was recorded at 42°C, an increase of 1.4°C from the previous day. The humidity level during the day remained at 50 per cent, and the heat index (perceived temperature) in the city reached 60°C. The temperature is expected to drop on Thursday.

The inactive sea breeze, and the hot and humid northwestern winds from Balochistan created a situation similar to the 2015 heatwave, during which over 1,200 people had lost their lives. The situation had become so dire that there was insufficient space in the morgues to store the bodies.

At that time the largest morgue in Karachi was the Edhi Centre in Sohrab Goth. However, in response to that crisis, Chhipa, JDC and other welfare organisations have since established multiple morgues at various locations in Karachi to better handle such situations.

Edhi spokesperson Azeem Khan points out that heatwaves result in the highest number of deaths among drug addicts. He says that the primary reasons are that they suffer from overdoses during extreme heat, and no one pays attention to them. Consequently, he adds, they live and die as unclaimed individuals.

“People usually don’t treat drug addicts well. They have no one to look after them. Although camps are set up on roads, the welfare services there are typically provided only to normal people, not to drug addicts,” Khan laments.

“Usually, drug addicts are witnessed being either beaten or ridiculed. No one is there to serve them. That’s why majority of the deaths due to heat are among drug addicts. As the heatwave continues, the number of such deaths will also increase.”

Social worker Ramzan Chhipa on Monday appealed to the government and influential personalities to contribute land and support the establishment of a Chhipa cemetery for the burial of unclaimed bodies. He stressed the urgent need for a dedicated burial ground to ensure dignified final rites for these individuals.

Chhipa said in a video statement that the absence of a cemetery to bury the unclaimed dead bodies remains a serious problem. He requested that this issue be resolved, and made an appeal to influential personalities in the country.

“Play your role in establishing a Chhipa cemetery for the burial of unclaimed dead bodies of people who are killed in road accidents and other incidents. I have been requesting a solution to this long-standing problem for many years, and have knocked every possible door but my request remains unheeded.”

He said he is very worried and does not know what to do. “I can’t stop picking up unclaimed dead bodies. Due to the lack of a special cemetery, if the heirs show up some time after the burial and if their grave isn’t found, we’ll have to face litigation.”