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Pakistan heatwave: Hundreds treated for heatstroke as temperatures soar to over 50C

Volunteers provide lime sugar water to people at a camp set up to prevent heat stroke on a hot summer day, in Karachi.
Volunteers provide lime sugar water to people at a camp set up to prevent heat stroke on a hot summer day, in Karachi. Copyright AP Photo/Fareed Khan
Copyright AP Photo/Fareed Khan
By Euronews Green with AP
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Residents say the government has done little to help them in the extreme weather.

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Parts of Pakistan have been sweltering in more than 50 degrees Celsius with officials saying climate change has sent temperatures soaring above normal levels.

Hundreds of people have been treated for heatstroke in the eastern city of Lahore while scores of people were brought to hospitals in Hyderabad, Larkana and Jacobabad districts in the southern province.

Heatstroke is a serious illness that occurs when your body temperature rises too quickly, causing someone to fall unconscious. Severe heatstroke can even cause disability or death.

Patients of heatstroke receive treatment at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
Patients of heatstroke receive treatment at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.P Photo/Fareed Khan

Authorities have urged people to stay indoors, hydrate and avoid unnecessary travel but labourers say they need to work to feed their families.

Heatstroke relief camps manned by volunteers have been set up to provide iced water for people in Sukkur, with residents saying the government has done nothing to help them.

People are struggling to stay cool in the extreme heat

Bopal Khan worked under the hot sun on a road construction site, saying he had no alternative but to continue his job in the heat.

“We have to work in this hot weather, we don’t have a choice,” he said.

“We have to work and feed our children, whether it's hot or cold, we have to work.”

Some people have taken to the waters of the popular Indus River to cool off in the extreme heat. Javed Ahmed and his friends have come to the river when electricity cuts have meant they couldn’t keep their homes cool.

Pakistani youths cool themselves off in a stream during extreme heat.
Pakistani youths cool themselves off in a stream during extreme heat. AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

“We are here to bathe and save ourselves from this extreme heat. The temperature here is around 49 Celsius, we have 18 hours of power loadshedding [temporary reduction of electricity supply] at our homes, our MPAs [Provincial Assembly members] and MNA [National Assembly members] for whom we vote have power generators at their houses,” he said.

“We feel humiliated, this canal water is the only option we have to keep ourselves cool.”

How long will the heatwave continue?

The heatwave is forecast to continue for at least a few more days.

In a statement, the country’s Met department said thunderstorms and isolated rain are predicted in upper parts of the country from 28 May to 1 June, so severe heatwave conditions are likely to subside.

“Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change. We have witnessed above normal rains [and] floods,” Rubina Khursheed Alam, the prime minister’s coordinator on climate, said at a news conference in the capital, Islamabad last week.

Officials have said that the current heatwave is due to climate change and is the latest climate-related disaster to hit the country in recent years. Melting glaciers and growing monsoons have caused devastating flooding. In 2022, floods submerged a third of the country.

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