700 Perish in Pakistan Heatwave

700 Perish in  Pakistan Heatwave700 Perish in  Pakistan Heatwave

More than 700 people have died from a three-day heatwave in southern Pakistan, officials said Tuesday, as medics battled to treat victims after a state of emergency was declared in hospitals.

The majority of the deaths occurred in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan's economic hub of around 20 million people, where temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius at the weekend, said Sabir Memon, a senior provincial health official, AFP reported.

"The number of people who have died due to the heatwave in government hospitals is now more than 700. The death toll may go up."

Semi Jamali, a doctor at Karachi's largest hospital said they had treated about 3,000 patients. "More than 200 of them were either received dead or died in hospital."

Pakistan's largest charity, Edhi Welfare Organization, said their two morgues in the city had received more than 400 corpses.

"More than 400 dead bodies have so far been received in our two mortuaries in the past three days. The mortuaries have reached capacity."

Electricity shortages have crippled the water supply system in Karachi, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers, the state-run water utility said.

Pakistan's Meteorological Office said temperatures remained at around 44.5 Celsius in Karachi on Tuesday but forecast thunderstorms for the evening.

The provincial government announced a public holiday to encourage residents to stay inside. Many of the victims have been laborers who toil outdoors.

An official from the National Disaster Management Authority said heat stroke treatment centers would be established at all hospitals across the province to provide "emergency medicines for heat stroke victims."

The deaths come a month after neighboring India suffered a deadly heatwave, with more than 2,000 deaths.

Hundreds of mainly poor people die at the height of summer every year in India, but this year's toll was the second highest in the country's history.