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Karachi residents reeling under water crisis amid heat wave

City swelters in October as more heat wave predicted

Gulf News

Islamabad: There will be no respite from blistering heatwave for the residents of Karachi who just suffered a severe heat spell in the month of October as Met Office has predicted hot days ahead.

Meanwhile, the persisting water crisis in Karachi has made life intolerable for people.

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department (PMD) has predicted a second heatwave in the coastal city of Karachi from October 19 to October 22. “A deep depression is forming up over the Bay of Bengal which is likely to intensify into a tropical storm or possibly a Category 1 cyclone in the next 24 to 48 hours” according to the PMD.

The system is likely to move towards central Indian region and will dissipate there. “However, it may again cut off sea breeze in the coastal belt of Pakistan, resulting in increased temperature of up to 41°C from Thursday to Sunday,” the PMD stated.

The new heat spell is anticipated to be less in intensity than the one experienced in the second week of October when the mercury touched 41 degree Celsius on 12 October but the ‘real feel’ was 45 degree Celsius because of the absence of sea breeze.

The unexpected and intense heatwave, linked to climate change, has alarmed the citizens. “Octobers always used to be warm in Karachi, but I never witnessed this scorching heatwave in all my life which makes your home feel like an oven” said Shazia Imtiaz, 58, a housewife. “We stayed indoors during the last week and only go out at night time.”

She says many people in her neighbourhood even took a break from work and schools to avoid the heatwave.

The hot weather however has boosted sales of roadside stalls as many people rushed to the stalls to beat the heat with cold drinks, ice lollies and ice cream. “There is nothing better than ice lollies to cool down on a hot day” said Sabahat Kareem, 18, a student.

The country’s Met office has advised citizens to keep themselves hydrated by consuming excess water, to avoid direct sunlight and refrain from going out, unless needed, during the heatwave.

Meanwhile, water supply to Karachi was suspended on Monday and Tuesday after the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) halted supply due to technical works and power shutdown at the Dhabeji, Gharo and Pipri pumping station.

The unbearable heat along with the water interruption made the situation worse for Karachi residents.

Meanwhile, the water tankers have increased their charges from Rs4,000 (Dh139) to Rs7,000 to exploit the situation, local media reported. “People simply have no choice but to afford expensive water tankers as there is no water in our taps”, a resident of Karachi, Ahmad Siddiqui, complained.

In the wake of rising temperatures, city authorities have also imposed emergency across all hospitals of the city and established dedicated heatstroke centres. “Fortunately no case of heatstroke has been reported from any of the health care facilities since the recent spate,” said Dr M. Taufiq, Director Health Services at Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.

Climate change scientists have warned that heat levels in South Asia, home to some 1.5 billion people, could reach uninhabitable levels by 2100. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh would be the worst affected regions, according to the study, published in the journal Science Advances.

Deadly heatwaves — already a risk for 30 per cent of the world’s population — will spread around the globe, posing a danger for 74 per cent of people on the planet by the end of this century if nothing is done to address climate change, according to another study published in the journal ‘Nature Climate Change.’