A heat wave reaching temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius has killed close to 800 people in what is believed to be Pakistan’s worst heat wave in decades.

Many of the deaths it is believed were among the elderly and poor caused by dehydration in the financial capital of Karachi where the government have today declared a public holiday, to encourage people to stay home and cool off.

Image associated press people being rushed to hospital in karachi
(Image AP) People being rushed to hospital in Karachi as heat wave kills close to 800 people.

The heat wave has coincided with severe electricity cuts and the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours.

Repeated power outages across the province, and particularly in Karachi, have also meant that people have not been able to find respite indoors.

Local power companies have expressed concerns and have said that they are struggling to deal with an increase in demand, as residents have been keeping air conditioners on for longer during the heatwave.

The power outages have also affected the water supply to the city, which was already struggling to meet heightened demand during the summer months.

Whilst many of Karachi’s wealthy have generators to run air conditioners or are gathering in upscale, air-conditioned malls to beat the heat, in the poorer areas residents¬†are furious with the civilian government over the electricity cuts and the poor state of the public hospitals treating many of those who have fainted from the heat.

The Edhi Welfare Organisation told the AFP news agency that their morgues had received hundreds of corpses and were now full.

Officials have been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the crisis.

Pakistan has come under strong criticism over claims that public services in Pakistan, a nation of 190 million people with nuclear arms are starved of resources because almost all of its wealthy evade taxes with fewer than 0.5% of citizens paying income tax.

The army, however have now taken immediate action and set up 22 health centres to hand out water and rehydration salts.

Many in Karachi nevertheless feel that had the authorities moved proactively many lives could have been saved. They are now pinning their hopes on the expected rains later in the week which they hope will help improve the current the situation.