KARACHI, Pakistan: A scorching heat wave across southern Pakistan's city of Karachi has killed more than 400 people, authorities said Tuesday, as morgues overflowed with the dead and overwhelmed hospitals struggled to aid those clinging to life.
Temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) began scorching Pakistan's port city of Karachi over the weekend. Hourslong power outages, typical in Pakistan, also struck the city, leaving fans and air conditioners inoperable as the majority of people in this Muslim country abstain from food or water during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The power outages also affected the sporadic water supply in the city, where those who can afford it rely on tankers of water being delivered to their homes. Some men cooled themselves off Tuesday under the pouring water of a broken water pipe.
Most of the dead are the elderly, said Seemi Jamali, a spokeswoman for Karachi's Jinnah Hospital. Hundreds more are being treated for heat-related ailments, including fever and dehydration and stomach-related illnesses, she said. Mortuaries were running out of space, with local television stations showing bodies stacked inside of cold storage rooms of morgues.
Provincial Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah ordered schools and public offices closed Tuesday until the heat wave ends.
Meteorologist Abdur Rauf called the heat wave the worst in at least a decade to strike Pakistan. He said expected monsoon rains in the coming days likely will bring relief to the area.