- While Edhi spokesman claims receiving 150 dead bodies in two days in Karachi, health authorities say more than 120 people have succumbed to heatwave
- Citizens in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Toba Tek Singh, Pangrio, Tahrparkar, Uch Sharif, Zhob, Larkana, Lahore and Thatta protest unscheduled and prolonged outages
- Govt claims no forced load shedding being carried out across country, all faults caused by heavy rain storm removed
More than 120 people have succumbed to the scorching heatwave in Karachi as Pakistanis across the country continue to battle the heat amidst unscheduled and prolonged power outages despite the government’s claim that it would not resort to load shedding, especially during Sehr and Iftar timings.
“So far, we have received over 90 dead bodies at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre since Saturday night,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, head of the hospital’s emergency centre, adding that 10 dead bodies were brought to the hospital on Saturday night, while the others were brought to the hospital on Sunday.
“They may have been suffering from different diseases but most of them died of heat stroke or heat exhaustion,” said Dr Jamali.
Most of the deceased were elderly people, she said, but added that a few young patients were admitted in critical condition and later passed away during treatment. All deceased at Jinnah hospital were male, the doctor said.
Quoting some of her patients, Dr Jamali said they had left their homes on Sunday and collapsed due to the heat.
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Health Director Salma Kausar said 27 dead bodies had been brought to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital in the past 24 hours, all of whom had died due to heat-related illness.
An Edhi Foundation spokesperson said that in the past 24 hours his foundation registered 150 dead at the Sohrab Goth Edhi morgue. “Most of them were brought by their relatives,” said Anwar Kazmi, the Edhi Foundation spokesperson.
“We can’t be sure about the exact causes of their deaths— whether or not they died of heat cannot be ascertained,” said Kazmi, however adding that relatives of those who died told Edhi volunteers that due to extreme weather conditions, they could not keep dead bodies of their dear ones at home.
While Saturday was the hottest day of this year’s summer in Karachi, where the mercury shot to 45 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature of 48 degrees Celsius was recorded in three districts of Sindh — Jacobabad, Larkana and Sukkur.
An official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department said that wind pattern indicated that the relatively cool sea breeze was not blowing and the city was getting hot continental air. He said that the minimum temperature recorded in Karachi on Saturday was 32 degrees Celsius while humidity — a measure of the amount of moisture in the air — was 45 per cent.
He said that the weather in the city on Sunday was expected to be hot / very hot and dry and the maximum temperature was expected to remain between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius. However, the Met department’s website shows the maximum temperature to range between 44 and 46 degrees Celsius on Sunday. The highest temperature Karachi has ever experienced was 48 degrees Celsius on May 9, 1938.
OF OUTAGES AND PROTESTS:
Agitated over the heat conditions coupled with forced power outages, people took to streets to protest against the unscheduled and unannounced power outages.
In Multan, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers held a demonstration at MDA Chowk which was also attended by a large number of citizens. The protesters held banners, placards and hand fans, and chanted slogans against the government amidst burning tyres.
In Multan, prisoners too chanted slogans while standing on the barracks when the transformer of the jail went out of order.
In Lahore, load shedding could not be prevented in the areas of Icchra, Shadman, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Mustafa Town, Thokar Niaz Baig and Shalimar among others.
In Karachi, due to technical faults, Lines Area, Gulshan Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Johar, Federal-B and Landhi areas went through prolonged power suspension. K-Electric authorities stated that teams have been formed to resolve the issues.
Perturbed over outages, citizens from Karachi’s Korangi, Abulhasan Isfahani Road, Azizabad, Gulshan-e-Shamim, Gulshan-e-Hadeed and Shadman areas took to the streets chanting slogans against K-Electric. They burnt tyres and blocked roads and Rangers had to be called in to disperse the protesters.
While several areas of Karachi witnessed more than 8 hours of continuous blackout, 17-hour outage was reported from Thatta where citizens protested at National Highway.
Moreover, protests were witnessed in various areas of Hyderabad – Lateefabad, Paredabad, Pakka Qila, Gari Khata, Resham Gali and Shahi Bazaar – which had been suffering power failure for several hours.
Earlier in Peshawar’s Armar area, citizens led by the KP forest minister besieged WAPDA House and threw stones at the building besides attacking the car of an adviser to the prime minister.
Moreover, distressed by the prolonged spans of power outages, residents took to streets in protest against the government in Sukkur, Toba Tek Singh, Pangrio, Tahrparkar, Uch Sharif, Zhob, Larkana and other cities.
GOVT CLAIMS ALL’S GOOD:
In the meanwhile, Ministry of Water and Power claimed that all the damages caused to the electricity lines by heavy rain storm on Saturday evening in different areas of the country have been completely restored and there was no forced load shedding on any feeder across the country throughout the day.
The statement said that at Sehri time all the domestic feeders in the country were exempted from load shedding one hour before and half an hour after as per the schedule, except for the system constraints that existed in very few areas.
The system currently is generating an average of 15,400 MW electricity while at peak time reached up to 16,000 MW.
Due to effective measures taken for closing the industry at the time of Iftar, Tarawee and Seheri timings, all the available electricity is being provided to the domestic consumers. Special instructions have been passed to ensure closing the industry on mix feeders so that maximum electricity can be provided to the domestic consumers, the statement addd.
Ministry of Water and Power Secretary Younus Dagha along with other officials has been continuously monitoring the situation.
Moreover, the ministry claimed that it is working hard to provide maximum relief to the consumers across the country. There are 637,435 transformers at the distribution system across the country expect the Karachi being operated by K-Electric. There may be localized faults or damage for which continuous efforts are being made to attend complaints within shortest time frame.
Talking to reporters in Sialkot, Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said the government is making all-out efforts to improve the demand and supply system of electricity to ensure minimum load shedding during Ramzan.
He urged the people not to use air conditioners during the timings of the prayers. The minister said this would help in saving 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts electricity.
Asif added that the government was unable to provide electricity to the industrial sector from 7 pm to 4 am during Ramzan. This step was being taken to ensure the provision of electricity to the people during Sehar and Iftar timings, he added.