Hundreds have now died in a heat wave scorching southern Pakistan, and opposition politicians are criticizing the government for electricity outages that have exacerbated the crisis. Diane Hodges reports.
Trying to stay cool, that's the challenge in southern Pakistan where a heat wave has sent temperatures soaring to 111 degrees, or 44 degrees Celsius. After four days, the relentless heat has claimed some 780 lives, according to one charity. Making the situation worse.. electricity outages lasting up to twelve hours. Vendor Mohammad Aftab says the poor are bearing the brunt of the power cuts, since wealthy residents can afford generators to keep their air conditioners running. (SOT OF GARMENTS VENDOR, MOHAMMAD AFTAB, SAYING:) "The poor people are dying. The government should think about it. The responsibility of these deaths lies entirely on the government." Exacerbating the crisis is the timing of the heatwave. It's arrived during Ramadan, when most Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during the day. Health officials say many of the deaths are due to dehydration. And residents say the poor state of the public hospitals has left them ill-equipped to treat the victims. Pakistan's military has set up centers to hand out water and rehydration salts. While residents wait and hope for rain.