Hundreds treated for heatstroke in Pakistan as country faces severe heat wave

Doctors treated hundreds of victims of heatstroke at hospitals across Pakistan on Thursday after an intense heat wave sent temperatures above normal levels due to climate change, officials said.

Temperatures soared as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit the previous day in Mohenjo Daro. The city, known for its archaeological sites, is in southern Sindh province, which was badly hit by climate-induced monsoon rains and devastating floods in 2022. The heat wave is forecast to continue for at least a week.

Authorities have urged people to stay indoors, hydrate and avoid unnecessary travel. But laborers say they don’t have a choice because they need to work to feed their families.

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

Doctors say they treated hundreds of patients in the eastern city of Lahore, while scores of people were brought to hospitals in Hyderabad, Larkana and Jacobabad districts in the southern Sindh province.

“The situation has been getting worse since yesterday, when people affected by heat started coming to hospitals in the Punjab province,” said Ghulam Farid, a senior health official. Pakistan has set up emergency response centers at hospitals to treat patients affected by the heat.

The state-run ambulance service is now carrying bottled water and ice to provide emergency treatment to victims of the heat, health officials said.

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Heatstroke is a serious illness that occurs when one’s body temperature rises too quickly, potentially causing some to fall unconscious. Severe heatstroke can cause disability or death.

This year, Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall. Last month’s heavy rains killed scores of people while destroyed property and farmland.

Daytime temperatures are soaring 46 degrees Fahrenheit above May’s temperatures, raising fears of flooding in the northwest because of glacial melting.

The 2022 floods caused extensive damage in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, as 1,739 people were killed across the country.

Currently, Pakistan’s southwest and northwestern areas are also experiencing the heat wave.

Authorities have shut schools for a week in Punjab. In the city of Lahore people were seen swimming in the roadside canals. Pakistan says despite contributing less than 1% to carbon emissions, it is bearing the brunt of global climate disasters.

Alam said recent erratic changes in weather patterns were the result of man-made climate change.

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