Heat Wave Death Toll Rises to 2,000 in Pakistan’s Financial Hub

A heat wave in Pakistan’s financial hub of Karachi and surrounding areas has killed about 2,000 people in the past two weeks, the most in recent memory.

Temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) have claimed about 1,500 lives in Karachi and 500 in other parts of southern Sindh province, according to Anwaar Kazmi, a spokesman for rescue agency Edhi Foundation. Most of the victims have been elderly, he said.

“There is no space left in the government hospitals to keep the dead bodies,” Kazmi, who runs the largest private ambulance service in Karachi, said by phone on Wednesday. He said the death toll was a record from a heat wave.

Temperatures reached 32 degrees Celsius in Karachi on Wednesday, which was declared a public holiday by the Sindh provincial government. The hot weather will last until the end of June, said Afzal Sumera, deputy director of Pakistan’s weather department in Islamabad.

The heat has contributed to low volumes on the Karachi Stock Exchange along with traditional slowness during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, according to Faisal Bilwani, head of international equities at Karachi-based Elixir Securities Ltd. Trading volume fell to 83 million shares on June 19, the lowest this month.

Protests have erupted over blackouts as soaring temperatures led to a surge in power demand. The Sindh government will hold a rally on Wednesday against K-Electric Ltd., which supplies electricity to Karachi, to protest power cuts in the port city.

“We are diverting power from industry to residences,” Hassan Nasir Jamy, additional secretary at the Ministry of Water and Power ministry, said in an interview on Tuesday.