Nearly 800 people are dead after four days of scorching temperatures that have reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) in southwest Pakistan. Karachi, a city of 20 million, has been the hardest hit, with the death toll rising to 780.
"The mortuary is overflowing, they are piling bodies one on top of the other,"Dr. Seemin Jamali, a senior official at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Karachi's largest government hospital, told Al Jazeera. "We are doing everything that is humanly possible here."
Jamali said the hospital has seen more than 8,000 patients with heat-related symptoms in recent days. The deadly heat wave has exposed the Pakistani government's inability to fund social services in the wake of natural disasters, with power cuts and a lack of running water only making matters worse. Other cities affected cities include Sukkur, Jacobabad, and Larkana. Most of those killed by the heat wave have come from poorer communities and worked as outdoor laborers.
Temperatures cooled down on Wednesday, and hospitals reported seeing fewer dehydrated patients. The provincial government in Sindh also declared a public holiday on Wednesday for schools and government officers to allow some people to steer clear of the heat.
While Pakistan regularly experiences high temperatures during the summer, the recent hot spell has coincided with Ramadan, the holy month when millions of Muslim Pakistanis refrain from drinking or eating from sunrise to sunset. Clerics have been told to urge those at risk of a heatstroke not to fast.
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