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Authorities on heat alert as Ramadan begins in Karachi

Met office warns that Karachi will be under a spell of scorching heat during the first week of Ramadan

Gulf News

Karachi: The coastal city of Karachi is expected to experience a weeklong spell of heat starting yesterday which also marked the start of Ramadan.

People of the metropolis may have to endure a heatwave tomorrow and Sunday, warned Pakistan Meteorological (Met) Department city chief Abdul Rashid.

The Met office has forecast extremely hot weather for tomorrow as “wind directions would halt sea breeze towards the coastal city, causing the mercury to soar to 38-40 degree Celsius” said the Met Office official.

“Karachi will be under a spell of scorching heat during the first week of Ramadan as the temperature is expected to soar up to 40°C” Rashid said.

Soaring temperatures coupled with power outages raise fear among the masses, evoking memories of June 2015 heatwave in Karachi that caused over 1,200 deaths and over 50,000 cases of heat illness.

The 2015 calamity also coincided with Ramadan, when Muslims observe fasting from dawn till dark. The severity of the situation led to a rare fatwa by Islamic cleric Mufti Mohammad who said ailing Muslims were free to skip fasting. “You don’t have to fast if you’re diabetic or dehydrated medically” he said, adding that “this is conditional on your medical condition and how you react to the heat, not a free-for-all.”

This year, Muslims in Pakistan will fast for nearly 16 hours daily and they are all prepared to fast in the blistering heat when fans and air conditioners no longer work due to power outages. “It’s true that the heat is unbearable and load-shedding makes it worse, but this is the holy month which we long for the whole year. How can we not observe fasting in Ramadan?” asked Shazia Hussain, a housewife.

Doctors, however, have advised people to stay indoors to avoid heatstroke and told them to stay hydrated. “People must keep themselves hydrated by consuming excess water and should avoid going out in the afternoon, especially from noon to 4pm” recommended Dr Hina Hayat, a general physician.

Foods to avoid

Health experts have also asked citizens to refrain from consuming oily and spicy food during Iftar. “Fresh fruit and vegetables should be consumed which can help keep you hydrated and help beat the heat. Keep away from unhealthy indulgences such as pakoras [fritters]” she added.

Earlier, in the first week of May, Karachi sizzled under an intense heat spell as temperatures soared to 44 degree Celsius. Earlier, the city of Nawabshah, also in Sindh province, set a global record temperature for the month of April, with the mercury rising to more than 50C.

While the regions of Sindh and Balochistan are expected to endure hot and dry weather, Met office has predicted pleasant weather in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Today and tomorrow rain and thundershower with gusty winds is expected in scattered places of Upper Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir, and isolated places of upper Punjab such as Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, Faisalabad divisions and Islamabad.

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