Heat Wave Kills Dozens in Pakistan

Extreme temperatures over Pakistan and northern India on May 21, 2018.

Extreme temperatures over Pakistan and northern India on May 21, 2018. Ryan Maue via Twitter

South Asia is in the midst of an intense, weeks-long bout of heat and extreme weather. For the last four days, daytime temperatures in Karachi, Pakistan hovered around 111 degrees Fahrenheit. At least 65 people have died so far and widespread power outages threaten the health of tens of thousands of others. Forecasters predict the heat wave will continue into June, with temperatures soaring to 122 degrees in the coming days.

The region’s current heat wave coincides with Ramadan, the Muslim holy month when worshippers consume no food or water from sunrise to sunset, exacerbating health issues.

The current intense heat in the region follows what meteorologists called one of the planet’s hottest Aprils in recorded history, with temperatures in Pakistan reaching 122.4 degrees. Violent dust storms also struck northwest India last month, with winds topping 100 miles per hour.

Scientists warn that the growing health threats from extreme high temperatures will only worsen in the coming decades. The News International, one of South Asia’s largest English-language newspapers, reported that Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change sent a letter to provincial leaders in early April warning them to prepare for more intense heat waves in 2018 and the coming years.