Weather forecasters warn Pakistanis to stay indoors ahead of new heat wave

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Students leave after attending their school as authorities announced reduced school hours due to soaring temperature, in Lahore, Pakistan, on May 21. (AP)

ISLAMABAD, May 21, (AP): Authorities in Pakistan on Tuesday urged people to stay indoors as the country is hit by an extreme heat wave that threatens to bring dangerously high temperatures and yet another round of glacial-driven floods.
Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, is shutting all schools for a week because of the heat, affecting an estimated 18 million students.
“The sweltering heat will continue this month,” said Zaheer Ahmed Babar, a senior official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department. He added that temperatures could reach up to 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 Fahrenheit) above the monthly average. This week could rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in many parts of the country, Babar said.
It’s the latest climate-related disaster to hit the country in recent years. Melting glaciers and growing monsoons have caused devastating floods, at one point submerging a third of the country.
Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall, according to the national weather center. Last month’s heavy rains killed scores of people while destroyed property and farmland, experts say the country witnessed heavier rains because of climate change.
Pakistan is still trying to recover from $30 billion in losses caused by devastating climate-induced floods that killed 1,739 people in 2022.
According to health officials, hospitals were instructed to set up emergency heatwave response centers so that those affected by the scorching temperatures could be quickly treated.
Doctors say heatstroke is a serious illness that occurs when one’s body temperature rises quickly because of sweltering heat, potentially causing some to fall unconscious. A severe heatstroke can cause disability or death.
Some areas in Pakistan are also currently facing hours-long power outages.

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