Heatwave hits Pakistan: Schools shut, Relief camps set up, Public advised to stay indoors

Pakistani authorities on May 21 urged people to stay indoors as an intense heat wave hit the country, raising concerns about dangerously high temperatures and glacial-driven floods.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department warned last Thursday that severe heatwaves will hit most parts of the country in the coming days, along with dust storms, thunderstorms, and heavy rains in northern areas.

“The sweltering heat will continue this month,” Zaheer Ahmed Babar, a senior official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said. He noted that temperatures could climb up to 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 Fahrenheit) above the monthly average. This week, temperatures could exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in many parts of the country, Babar added.

Amid heatwave warnings, Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab announced to close all private and public schools for a week, while the Sindh government postponed board exams to protect students from extreme temperatures.

1,000 relief camps set up across Sindh

More than 1,000 camps have been established across the southern province of Sindh to deal with a severe heatwave, provincial disaster management officials said Tuesday.

“These camps have been set up to provide relief to affected people, and to help reduce instances of heatstroke and other heat-related diseases,” Ajay Kumar assistant director of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) told AFP.

“They are also equipped with places of rest, water and glucose to give to people as and when these are needed,” he added.

Temperatures in the province are forecasted to hit as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of rural Sindh.

Schools closed in Punjab

Soaring temperatures and heatwave warnings forced the Punjab government to close all public and private schools for seven days, from May 25 to May 31, affecting around 18 million students.

“In view of the surge in temperature and heat wave in the province, all public and private schools shall remain closed for seven days with effect from 25th May 2024 to 31st May 2024,” a notification from the provincial education department read.

However, examinations will be carried out “as scheduled”, with “necessary precautions to ensure the safety of students,” the notification clarified.

Summer vacations announced amid heatwave

Separately, the Sindh government postponed matric exams from May 21 to May 27 “in the wake of the heat wave alert issued by the NDMA & PDMA”.

NDMA wrans extreme heatwave may trigger glacier burst, floods in GB and KP

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued an alert and stating there was a risk of glaciers bursting and floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan due to the ‘extreme heat wave’.

The authority alerted concerned departments about the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) threat.

According to the alert, there is a risk of severe flooding and landslides in the mountainous areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan during May 21 to 27, 2024.

“Daytime temperatures between 4-6°C higher than normal may bring gusty winds/thunderstorms at isolated places from May 21 to May 27, 2024. This combination could significantly increase the flow in rivers and associated streams & nullahs, raising chances of GLOF Events, flash floods, landslides / mudslides, in vulnerable mountainous areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan,” NDMA cautioned in its latest report.

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