Via Thomson Reuters: Karachi opens heat relief centres in bid to cut death toll. Excerpt:
Last summer, temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius led to more than a thousand heat-related deaths in Karachi. This year, as it prepares for the peak of summer heat, the city has opened 179 heatstroke centres to try to hold down the death toll.
Officials have also trained scores of new ambulance drivers and are working with utility companies to try to keep electricity and water flowing as the city's 24 million people battle summer heat during the month-long Islamic fast of Ramadan, when drinking water and eating is forbidden during daylight hours.
Imams have said those whose life is at risk from the fast need not keep to it in extreme conditions.
"If a doctor says that your life is threatened due to the scorching heat, or you have a medical condition and it is going to get worse due to the fasting, then you can skip the daily fast," Muhammad Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, an organisation of scholars and religious clerics, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
If any area of Pakistan is hit by extreme heat during Ramadan, which began June 7, the council will remind followers of that flexibility in public service media announcements, he said.
As climate change brings ever hotter summer temperatures to some of the world's already sizzling spots, finding ways to reduce the risks is crucial, medical and climate change experts say.
In Pakistan's southern Sindh province, temperatures have already hit 52 degrees (125 degrees Farenheit) in Larkana, with Jacobabad and Moenjodaro just slightly cooler, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
In the port city of Karachi, where temperatures so far remain below 40 degrees Celsius, heat relief centres are open, providing drinking water to passersby.
Last summer, more than 1,270 people died in Karachi, and nearly 36,000 were hospitalised or hit by water and electricity shortages during 13 consecutive days of scorching temperatures in June and July.