June 27, 2005

Pakistan heat wave toll 175 as millions suffer

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A heat wave across Pakistan haskilled about 175 people over the past eight days but some areashave had relief from the blistering temperatures, officialssaid on Monday.

The most populous province of Punjab, in the center of thecountry, was the worst hit with about 120 people dying and manysuffering ill effects of the extreme heat, a provincial healthofficial said.

"There have been lot of cases of heat-stroke anddehydration reported from the 6,000 hospitals and health unitswe have in the province," a Punjab health official said.

Health officials in the southern province of Sindh saidthere had been about 10 deaths over the past 24 hours takingthe province's toll of fatalities due to the heat to about 55.

The highest temperature recorded during the heat wave wasin Jacobabad in Sindh, which saw the mercury hit 52 degreesCelsius (125.6 Fahrenheit) last Friday, a provincial officialsaid.

A weather official said temperatures had eased in about athird of the area hit by the heat wave but the hightemperatures would persist elsewhere for at least another twodays.

June and July are traditionally Pakistan's hottest monthsbefore seasonal rains cools things off a bit before the mildautumn.

Hot weather in neighboring Afghanistan had melted snowacross the Hindu Kush mountains, swelling rivers there and innorthwest Pakistan where about 300 families have been forcedfrom their homes by floods, a military official said.

The army has been helping victims of the floods caused bythe Kabul and Swat rivers bursting their banks.