The worst heat wave in nearly 35 years has killed over 1,000 people in Pakistan’s city of Karachi.
The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, while the army set up emergency treatment centres.
“There is no space left in the government hospitals to keep the dead bodies,” Anwaar Kazmi, a spokesman for rescue agency Edhi Foundation who runs the largest private ambulance service in Karachi, told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
The temperatures in Karachi reached 111 Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) over the weekend — the highest since 1981. They dipped slightly to 100 F on Thursday, but there still hasn’t been any significant rain fall.
The heat wave’s effects have been amplified by the “severe” electricity cuts that have left “
many without fans, water or light,” Reuters reports.
Furthermore, as it is currently Ramadan, Muslims are not eating or drinking during daylight hours. In other words, many — especially those who work outside — are dehydrated during the day.
“Some shops have refused to sell ice or water during the day, citing religious laws that mean they can be fined,” Reuters notes.
“The situation, if uncontrolled, could lead to social unrest and pose a challenge,” writes Bank of America’s India Economist Abhishek Gupta. “This is likely to result in the postponement of reforms in the power sector.”
“With a history of military coups, political instability remains a perennial risk,” Gupta added. “The current heatwave is likely to aggravate the power crisis with calls for nationalization.”