Hundreds treated for heatstroke as temperatures cross 52 degrees Celsius in Pakistan

Hundreds of people have been treated for heatstroke in Pakistan’s Lahore city while dozens of people were brought to hospitals in parts of southern Sindh province including Hyderabad, Larkana and Jacobabad districts.

The government and medical organizations have urged people to stay indoors, hydrate, and avoid unnecessary travel, but many say they must work to feed their families. Volunteers have set up heatstroke relief camps in certain cities and towns, however, residents criticized the government for lack of assistance.

The high demand for ice has driven prices up significantly, with the cost of ice slabs doubling from Rs220 to Rs400 and ice blocks from Rs700 to Rs1,400.

Hospitals overflow with heatstroke patients across Punjab and Sindh

Hospitals in Lahore were swamped with over 70 cases of heatstroke on May 28, as temperatures soared above 50 degrees Celsius in seven cities across Sindh and Punjab. The extreme heatwave is predicted to persist, according to the Meteorological Department, with sweltering conditions forecasted for Sindh and southern Punjab today. Despite some areas potentially receiving rain and strong winds, relief seems distant for the heat-stricken population.

Heatstroke patients in Lahore

In Lahore alone, 72 people sought medical treatment for heatstroke in the past 24 hours. Public hospitals saw a surge in patients, with Services Hospital admitting 20, General Hospital 15, Mayo Hospital 18, Jinnah Hospital 10, and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital 9. The relentless heatwave has led to widespread health concerns, highlighting the severity of the situation.

In response to the extreme heat, residents of Lahore are turning to traditional coolants. Ice cream and milk shops on Ferozepur Road have seen a surge in customers seeking relief with khoya kulfis and cold milk.

Pakistan swelters as temperatures soar above 50 degrees Celsius

Temperatures rose above 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, marking the highest recorded reading of this summer amid an ongoing heatwave, the Pakistan Met Office said on Monday.

The highest reading of the summer so far was recorded in Mohenjo Daro, a town in Sindh known for archaeological sites, where temperatures rose as high as 52.2 C (126 F) over the last 24 hours, according to Pakistan Meteorological Department Shahid Abbas.

The highest temperature recorded at Mohenjo Daro was 53.5°C (128°F) on May 26, 2010, which is among the highest measured temperatures in Asia.

Residents said the only remedy is taking several baths a day, as power outages make their lives extremely difficult and impact their daily activities. Business owners complained about the heat affecting their operations, with shopkeepers noting that customers are avoiding restaurants due to the extreme heat.

Recorded temperature in the past 24 hours

The weather remained hot and dry in Azad Kashmir and Punjab. The highest temperature was 50.1°C in Khanpur tehsil, and the lowest was 20.0°C in Murree.

Khanpur tehsil experienced the highest temperature at a blistering 50.1°C, while Murree enjoyed the lowest at 20°C. The Regional Meteorological Centre in Lahore warned that the hot and dry conditions will persist in the plains and southern districts of Punjab. The Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) issued alerts to district administrations in southern Punjab, emphasizing the urgent need to address the severe heatwave.

Heatwave hits Pakistan May 2024
Excessive heatwave hits Pakistan in May 2024. (Image Credit: NDMA/Royal Meteorological Society)

Highest recorded temperature in Pakistan

The highest temperature recorded in Pakistan was in 2017 when temperatures rose to 54 C (129.2 F) in the city of Turbat in the Southwestern province of Balochistan. This was the second hottest in Asia and fourth highest in the world, according to Sardar Sarfaraz, Chief Meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD).

Heatwave persists in Sindh

Six cities in Sindh, including Jacobabad, Dadu, Larkana, Mohenjo Daro, Shaheed Benazirabad, and Khairpur, recorded temperatures exceeding 50°C, significantly above their monthly averages by 5-8°C. Other cities such as Sakrand, Sukkur, Rohri, Padidan, Tandojam, Hyderabad, Mithi, Chhor, and Mirpurkhas faced temperatures between 44 and 48°C, while Badin, Karachi, and Thatta experienced slightly lower temperatures, remaining below 40°C.

A weather advisory from the Met Department warned that Karachi, Thatta, Badin, and Sujawal districts will continue to endure the heatwave until June 1, with maximum temperatures ranging from 40 to 44°C.


Meanwhile, isolated rain and windstorms are expected in regions including Azad Kashmir, Islamabad, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Narowal, Lahore, Jhang, Khushab, Sargodha, Mianwali, Murree, and Galyat. Earlier, the PDMA alerted residents to anticipate rain and windstorms across the province from May 28 to June 1. Regions such as Rawalpindi, Murree, Galiyat, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, and Mandi Bahauddin are expected to receive some rainfall.

Impact of extreme heat on crops

The extreme weather change could potentially affect standing crops, and farmers have been advised to take necessary precautions. PDMA Director General Irfan Ali Kathia urged citizens to seek shelter during storms to avoid lightning and other hazards.

Experts have said that the current heatwave is due to climate change and is the latest climate-related disaster to hit the country. “Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change. We have witnessed above normal rains [and] floods,” Romina Khurshid Alam, the prime minister’s coordinator on climate, had said at a news conference in Islamabad last week.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a heat-related illness and is considered a life-threatening condition. It occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature and overheats. It is often caused by overexertion or exposure to high heat in hot, humid weather. When heatstroke happens, the body’s temperature can rise rapidly to 41 to 43 °C (106 to 110 °F) or even higher, which can harm the central nervous system. Extreme high temperature impacts the body’s sweating mechanism which prevents it from cooling down.

Heatstroke symptoms and prevention

Symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Headache, dizziness, lightheadedness,
  • Fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Flushed/red skin, and lack of sweating
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Racing heart rate

Prevention: The good news is that heatstroke can be avoided by following simple suggestions:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity in hot, humid conditions.
Sana Jamal
Storyteller. Avid Reader. Learner to the core.

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