Jun 29, 2015

Sindh: Heatwave Takes More Lives

In Sindh region of Pakistan, the 8-day heatwave has resulted in at least 1,276 fatalities, some of which are still unidentified. Those most vulnerable to the scorching sun live in severe poverty and lack basic protection and shelter.


Below is an article by Dawn

As most of the over 300 unidentified victims of the punishing heatwave were buried by the Edhi Foundation by Saturday evening [27 June 2015], the continuing death of heatstroke victims — 55 in Karachi and 11 elsewhere in Sindh — brought the eight-day tally to 1,276 in Sindh.

According to the figures released by the Sindh health department on Saturday, 1,186 people have died since June 20 because of the harsh heatwave only in the metropolis.

On Saturday [27 June 2015], the number of heatwave deaths was 66 in the province.

Officials said the hospitals in Karachi reported 55 deaths, including 20 more unidentified bodies which arrived at the Edhi morgue, on Saturday.

The number of deaths in other districts of Sindh rose to 90 with 11 more deaths on Saturday in Tharparkar, Hyderabad, Badin, Thatta and Jacobabad districts.

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

Representatives of the Edhi Foundation said they were continuously receiving bodies, though their number considerably decreased on Saturday.

Yet they received more than 30 bodies on Saturday, which included some unidentified bodies shifted to the morgue by various hospitals after they found no claimant.

Around 160 unclaimed bodies were buried by the Edhi Foundation on Saturday

They said that 140 unclaimed and unidentified bodies were buried by Friday evening. Around 160 such bodies were buried on Saturday, they added.

“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.

He said the heat was so devastating in previous days that many such unclaimed bodies got decomposed at the hospitals before they reached the morgue.

“Some of them could not be identified, but many had still retained their features,” he said, adding that it helped some relatives who identified and took the bodies for burial.

“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.”

Doctors at the hospital said that a majority of the dead appeared to hail from poor background.

“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.

He said a number of the victims were later found to be drug addicts, who lived on footpaths, near drains and beneath the city’s bridges.

Officials at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which runs scores of medical facilities including the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, said their hospitals received a number of people who lived under the sky and had little shelter to save them from the scorching sun.

“They included a number of beggars, some of them were brought to hospitals with their begging bowls,” said a senior KMC official, adding, many of beggars had their relatives who later claimed their bodies.


 Photo Courtesy: Roberto Saltori