KARACHI: Interior Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan suffered through an intense heat wave on Monday as temperatures reached 51 degrees centigrade in Sukkur and Larkana.
In Sibi and Jacobabad, temperatures reached 49.5 degrees and 49 degrees, respectively. The extreme heat in the Punjab caused fatalities in Sialkot, as two people died and seven fainted due to the soaring temperatures and extreme humidity. The temperature in Sialkot touched 46 degrees on Monday. 65-year-old Nazir Ahmad and 50-year-old Karim died of heatstroke in Thitharwali- Sialkot and Daska respectively, while seven people fainted.
In Karachi, Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz said the city was experiencing temperatures of 36 degrees, and was expected to grow warmer in the coming days. In Lahore temperatures reached 45 degrees centigrade. Humidity levels dropped to 15 per cent, while an official from the Met office, Rana Atif, said the temperature in the city would soar to 46 or 47 degrees on Wednesday. He said there was a slight chance that the city would experience thunderstorms on Friday. “It is a natural phenomena that whenever the temperature rises for a few days, eventually a dust storm will occur, which will bring down the temperature,” he added.
Markets were deserted and many people closed their businesses early, unable to bear the heat. People thronged around the canal from Jallo Park to Thokar Niaz Baig, dipping their feet in the water to cool off. Unfortunately, there is a downside to adopting this way to beat the heat, as skin specialist Dr Rahat Masood said exposure to dirty water in city canals could cause skin infections. “Parents should stop their children from bathing in canal water, as at some places the city canal is filled with sewerage,” said Dr Masood.
He said the dirty water in the canals could also cause breathing problems. Pediatrician Dr Tanveer Mustafa said that hospitals were admitting a growing number of patients suffering from illnesses caused by the heat in recent days. He warned against giving children cold drinks right after they are exposed to extreme heat. “This can cause a throat infection,” he said, adding that children should be kept away from direct sunlight. In Islamabad, temperatures peaked at 40 degrees, while Dr Waseem Khawaja, senior doctor at the Pakistan Medical Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), said he saw an increasing number of patients suffering from heatstroke being admitted to hospital everyday.
“Every day about 90-100 patients coming in to the hospital suffer from heatstroke,” he maintained. He said people were not taking adequate protective measures before going out into the sunlight. Dr Khawaja suggested that people should cover their heads before going out in direct sunlight and drink as much water as they can. Across Sindh and Punjab, fans and air conditioners could provide no relief from the heat as excessive power outages continued. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NAUMAN TASLEM AND SEHRISH WASIF)
Published in the Express Tribune, May 25th, 2010.
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