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Tuesday July 16, 2024

11 more dead as scorching heat, power outages pile misery on Karachiites

By our correspondents
June 26, 2024
This representational image shows an ambulance arriving as surrounding people make their way. — AFP/File
This representational image shows an ambulance arriving as surrounding people make their way. — AFP/File 

Eleven more bodies were found across Karachi on Tuesday, bringing the total number of apparently heat-related deaths since Sunday to 38. An Edhi official said that the high number of deaths has caused a space issue, prompting them to start burying unidentified or unclaimed bodies.

He said they buried some 22 bodies on Tuesday and plan to bury around 22 more at night or the next morning to manage space in a more effective manner. According to the Edhi spokesperson, they recovered five bodies on Tuesday. Shahid Sardar Ali, 45, was found dead in a Surjani Town flat. His body was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH). Police said the body was a few days old and the cause of death is unknown.

Rehmat Barkat, 75, was found dead in Younus Goth, Taiser Town, Lyari. His body was taken to ASH. The cause of death is yet to be ascertained. The body of an unidentified man aged around 55 years was found in Surjani Town’s Pir Khan Goth. The deceased was taken to ASH.

Umair Aftab, 32, was found dead near the Sindhi Hotel in New Karachi. His body was taken to ASH. The cause of death is yet to be ascertained. The body of an unidentified man aged around 50 years was found in Orangi Town’s Sector 11½. The deceased was taken to the Edhi morgue after the completing of the medico-legal formalities at ASH. The cause of death is unknown.

When contacted, Chhipa Welfare said they recovered six unidentified bodies, including one of a woman, on Tuesday. According to Chhipa spokesperson Shahid Chhipa, they recovered bodies from Manghopir, Mauripur Road, Orangi Town, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Soldier Bazaar and Clifton.

According to Karachi Police Surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed, two bodies of suspected heat-related deaths were received at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and three at Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi on Tuesday.

The Edhi spokesperson said that between June 21 and June 24, they received a total of 427 bodies, which is significantly higher than the 30 to 35 bodies a day that are typically brought by relatives for bathing and shrouding.

“Most complaints from people indicate that these deaths were due to extreme heat, electricity load-shedding and illnesses. As of today [Tuesday], the number of bodies received by evening was around 70, a figure that will continue to rise until we tally the total at midnight.”

He said that out of the 427 bodies received, they have conducted biometric identification and buried 22 of them. Among the 70 bodies received on Tuesday, some 22 are unidentified and will be buried after biometric identification, he added, pointing out that the large influx of bodies has caused space constraints at morgues.

Three more days

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the city is likely to swelter for three more days, with temperatures ranging between 38°C and 40°C, adds our correspondent.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has written to all the deputy commissioners to inform them that the PMD has forecast that very hot weather is likely to continue in Sindh for the next three days.

During daytime the maximum temperature is likely to range between 38°C and 40°C in Karachi, while Ghotki, Jacobabad, Dadu, Larkana, Shikarpur, Kamber Shahdadkot and Shaheed Benazirabad may face temperatures ranging between 46°C and 48°C.

The PDMA said that in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas Umerkot, Thatta, Sujawal and Badin, the temperature is likely to remain between 44°C and 46°C, with chances of dust storms, thunderstorms and rain in Jamshoro, Thatta, Badin and Tharparkar on Wednesday (today).

Heatwave camps

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab has directed the KWSC to establish heatwave camps across the city, following which the KWSC’s Hydrants Cell set up stalls offering cold drinks and water in different areas, including all official hydrants of the water utility. KWSC CEO Asadullah Khan said the stalls have been set up to provide residents relief from extreme temperatures.

On the directive of Commissioner Syed Hasan Naqvi, 124 heatwave relief centers have been set up across the city in response to the current heatwave. According to a press release from the commissioner’s office, 77 centres are located at intersections, bus stops, and markets, offering shaded areas, cold drinking water, and ice to the public. Additionally, various hospitals and dispensaries have established heatwave centres providing medical assistance.

Murder FIRs

Concerned over the recent deaths in the city, Home Minister Ziaul Hassan Lanjar has ordered an enquiry, saying that if KE is found responsible, murder FIRs would be registered against their officials.

A statement issued on Tuesday quoted Lanjar as saying that the cause of deaths is being investigated, and that if it is revealed in the inquiry that load-shedding is the main reason, KE officials would be held responsible.