PM orders emergency measures as death toll exceeds 425

Published: June 23, 2015
Email
A family mourns the death of a relative outside the Edhi Morgue in Karachi. PHOTO: INP

A family mourns the death of a relative outside the Edhi Morgue in Karachi. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: 

The death toll from the intense heat wave sweeping across Karachi and other parts of southern Pakistan has climbed to 425 over the course of 72 hours, snowballing into a major health crisis in the country.

Droves of people continued to suffer from the effects of sunstroke and other heat-related complications brought about by the sweltering temperatures.

The premier has taken notice of the rising number of deaths and issued orders for tackling the situation, while the Sindh government elicited help from the army and the paramilitary Rangers to deal with it.

Overcrowded hospitals

For three consecutive days all the major public and private hospitals – including the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), the Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) and the Aga Khan University Hospital – were overwhelmed by the sheer number of heatstroke patients.

DESIGN: NABEEL KHAN

Private hospitals have  stopped admitting more patients, even as scores of people languished outside the wards of public hospitals.

The official death toll has reached 425, but independent sources believe that the number could be much higher, because a large number of the deceased have already been buried without being taken to any hospital.

Read: Energy management: PM Nawaz grills top bureaucrat over blackouts

Despite the increasing number of deaths being reported in the provincial capital, neither government officials nor any other organisation has made any arrangements for collecting and collating the data of the death toll.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued directives to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to immediately take necessary measures to deal with the prevalent situation in Sindh, where the tenacious heat wave continues to claim lives. The NDMA chairman has asked the Karachi corps commander to assist the authority in this regard.

On the other hand, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Sindh has requested the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Rangers to render all possible services and assistance to alleviate the suffering of the people.

Crunching numbers

The JPMC has received the highest number of patients: over 700 were admitted in the emergency ward with heat-related complications, including heatstroke, fever, gastroenteritis and dehydration.

“Around 171 people have died according to our records,” said Dr Javed Jamali, the hospital’s focal person. He said a majority of the deceased were senior citizens. Dr Jamali said that more than 1,500 people have been brought to the JPMC from different parts of the city.

As for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC)-run hospitals: “Over 1,000 people with sunstroke-related complications have been admitted,” said Dr Salma Kausar Ali, senior director medical and health services.

“The situation is very critical,” she said. “Around 70 people have died at KMC hospitals, including 64 at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.”

According to the breakdown of the number of deaths reported from other health facilities: 64 deaths were reported by the CHK, 30 by the Indus Hospital (where 250 people were brought on Monday alone), 23 by the Sindh Government Qatar Hospital Orangi, 22 by the LNH, 15 each by the Ziauddin Hospital (North Nazimabad) and the Lyari General Hospital, eight by the Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi and seven by the Ziauddin Hospital (Keamari). Sindh Health Secretary Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo said the provincial government has declared an emergency across Karachi.

Read: A helping hand: Rangers establish Heatstroke Relief Centres in Karachi

Meanwhile, the Edhi morgue was also overwhelmed with the number of bodies that were being brought to the facility. The deceased that the morgue officials agreed to preserve was on the condition that they would be recovered within a few hours. Anwar Kazmi, the spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, said that more than 400 bodies were brought to them.

There was also a shortage of ambulances in different parts of the city.

Heatstroke centres

The NDMA’s Ahmed Kamal said the authority has asked the PDMA Sindh to set up heatstroke centres at all public and private hospitals, as well as basic health units across the province. The NDMA has also asked the National Health Emergency Preparedness & Response Network to set up an emergency helpline to facilitate heatstroke patients. The authority also seeks better coordination with the ambulatory services.

Pre-monsoon rains

Upper and central Punjab (including Islamabad), lower Sindh (including Karachi), the coastal areas, Mirpurkhas and some parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are expected to receive moderate and scattered pre-monsoon rains until Thursday, along with dust storms.

Muzammil Hussain, a meteorologist for the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said the pre-monsoon season had already started in various parts of the country on June 21. Karachi received light showers in some parts of the port city on Monday, bringing the mercury level down from 43°C to 35-38°C.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2015.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (9)

  • Jun 23, 2015 - 9:27AM

    ARE YOU WAITING FOR LOST OF PRECIOUS HUMAN LIVES ?
    The Govt. in center and in province has years of experience of ruling, look at their performance, public voted for them should be ashamed but having short memories as a nation they will forget everything and will vote for them again.
    Recommend

  • Iram
    Jun 23, 2015 - 10:33AM

    isn’t it too early to awake?Recommend

  • JB
    Jun 23, 2015 - 10:50AM

    Yes, apparently the Metro was more of a priority than the energy crisis…clearly people needed the bus system more than a fan in the summer heat. Congrats to the people who voted and supported PMLN in such a bone head decision. I hope you realize that a lot of those lives could have been saved had the Government kept their priorities straight. Shame on you!Recommend

  • Ranjha
    Jun 23, 2015 - 11:24AM

    PM orders emergency measures to build a network of Metros in all heat wave affected areas to provide shelter from the sweltering son under the ugly raised tracks for gaudy buses!

    Pathetic is what pathetic does.Recommend

  • Jun 23, 2015 - 11:43AM

    “Out of nothing can come, and nothing can become nothing.”
    Persius (brainyquote.com)

    NO PREEMPTIVE ACTION. No water dams and reservoirs, no emergency health centers and hospitals, no Local Bodies polls, no garbage collection, no parks, no research facilities and development centers. Only sirens and heavy police and SSU contingents for an illiterate minister.
    The LOSS of 400 plus human lives is meaningless to the PPP and PMLN because they are languishing in ACs and gloating over the seats they occupy. They think the police, party cadres, and SSU will be the front runners in their defense.
    The PMLN and PPP are thick-skinned people who brazenly looted the exchequer for their personal comfort. Little did they realize that their votes will give them goodwill and blessings if they helped the citizens. Where are they now? Talking back with foolish answers to the people who are taking them to task. Salams Recommend

  • Qamber
    Jun 23, 2015 - 12:06PM

    Yet there no Emergency No Created yet ….
    What a Management ..Recommend

  • Dilip
    Jun 23, 2015 - 12:10PM

    All newspapers should inform the public that ALL elderly people and young children MUST remain indoors throughout the day. Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 23, 2015 - 12:18PM

    @JB: brother, Democracy in Pakistan is dominated only by rural Punjab, and the best definition of democracy is out of 100 votes 10 PhD’s are rejected against 90 farmers….if they are to elect the leader then my friend the future of Pakistan is in the hand of these illustrate class and they will decide our fortune… this is exactly what is happening around here…we the educated class are outcaste by these dumbos… Recommend

  • JB
    Jun 23, 2015 - 12:20PM

    I am waiting for the PMLN trolls to make some sort of excuse…Recommend

More in Pakistan