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Two die from heatstroke in Karachi amid forecast of hotter weather

Two die from heatstroke in Karachi amid forecast of hotter weather

KARACHI: Soaring temperatures claimed two lives in the city on Friday amid a forecast of a hotter weather in the next two days, with mercury levels expected to rise up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Sharafat Jokhio and Abdul Sattar, both middle-aged according to hospital sources, were the first victims of a heatstroke on Friday afternoon. Found unconscious in Manghopir, Jokhio was rushed to a nearby dispensary where he was pronounced dead on arrival while Abdul Sattar was rushed to the Qatar Hospital in Orangi Town where he, too, died.

Earlier, the Pakistan Meteoro­logical Department had issued a warning of rising temperatures in Karachi amid the already hot weather being experienced throughout Sindh. The winds were expected to change direction, making the air hot and dry with temperatures expected to range from 38 to 40 degrees Celsius over the weekend.

The heatwave warning had also prompted the setting up of at least 60 first response centres (10 in each of the six districts of Karachi) by the city administration.

Meanwhile, Friday, the first of the three-day forecast for a hot spell, saw many people heading for the beaches, especially Hawkesbay and Sandspit, since early morning.

“They were advising the people on television to leave the house only if absolutely necessary. Otherwise stay indoors to avoid the heatwave. We thought it most important then to head to the beach,” said Danish Najam, standing knee-deep in the Arabian Sea.

“The beach is the best place to beat the heat. We are lucky to be living in Karachi, which has such a long coastline. Our entire family, comprising around 150 people, came to Hawkesbay today in rented buses, vans, pick-ups and personal cars. We hail from New Karachi, Nazimabad, Hyderi, Gulshan, Malir and PECHS. And some from our family even drove down from Hyderabad to join the party here,” said Marina Khan, another member of the huge family who seemed to know most people getting their feet wet in the water, making sand castles, or enjoying camel rides by name.

“We had been toying with the idea of going to the beach for many weeks now. Reading about the heat spell in the newspaper this morning finally motivated us to come here today. It is so pleasant here. Now we don’t want to leave,” said Samreen Khan.

Uzma Hameed, a teacher, said that she was there with her entire school staff. “School was over early today due to Jumma prayers and we all headed out here to enjoy the cool water and sea breeze,” she said.

“I have been giving so many rides today. What happened?” said Maula Bakhsh, the camel man, clueless about the weather forecast.

Sikander Jan, owner of Zulfiqar Restaurant at Hawkesbay, said that he took special care to put bottled water, juice and cold drinks in the freezer after learning of the weather. “I was expecting many people today, and I was right. The sea breeze is strong and constant. It doesn’t make you feel the heat even under the blazing sun. This air is moist and humid, too, so it helps in cooling the weather around here,” he said.

“Today is the first day in summer this year that we are witnessing so many people here at the beaches. And the crowds will only grow. What the government should do now is provide more lifeguards and facilities here. The 60 or so lifeguards stationed here are quite obviously not enough to cover all our beaches, starting from Sandspit and Hawkesbay and going up to French Beach and beyond. There is also a need for more facilities like proper streetlights and washrooms. The solar-powered streetlights were stolen soon after being installed some years ago and there were four mobile toilets here worth Rs5,000,000 each but we have no idea where they vanished,” the restaurant owner bemoaned.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2016

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