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Pakistan heatwave kills 65 people in Karachi – welfare organisation

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

A mother holds her child, covered with a towel to avoid sunlight, during a heatwave in Karachi, Pakistan May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

 

A heatwave has killed 65 people in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi over the past three days, a social welfare organization said on Tuesday (May 22), amid fears the death toll could climb as the high temperatures persist.

The heatwave has coincided with power outages and the holy month of Ramadan when most Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Temperatures hit 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on Monday (May 21), local media reported.

Faisal Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation that operates morgues and an ambulance service in Pakistan’s biggest city, said the deaths occurred mostly in the poor areas of Karachi.

A government spokesperson could not be reached for comment. But Sindh province’s Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho told the English-language Dawn newspaper that no one has died from heat-stroke.

Nonetheless, reports of heat stroke deaths in Karachi will stir unease amid fears of a repeat of a heatwave in of 2015, when morgues and hospitals were overwhelmed and at least 1,300 mostly elderly and sick people died from the searing heat. — Reuters

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Pakistan gives polio vaccine to all children

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Staff member giving polio vaccine to a girl in Islamabad, Pakistan | REUTERS

 

The Pakistani government began Monday to give polio vaccines to over 38 million children across the country who are under five years old.

The vaccination plan will be finished in four days and will cover all children in the country. Currently, medical staffs are working in all communities to give vaccines.

Preventing the transmission of polio has become an important work of Pakistan’s health care system. Usually, each community will be sent five medical groups, and each of the groups comprises two staffs. In order to communicate with children easily, most of the medical staff members are women.

“In this area, more than 1,000 children in over 800 households will be vaccinated. We are also working in many schools nearby, and going to give vaccines to more than 1,000 students in schools and other children in this community,” said Nusrat, the officer in charge of a vaccination team.

In recent years, Pakistan has made significant progress in the eradication of polio, with the number of infected children declining nationwide year on year. The annual number of children hit by polio in the country was 306 in 2014, 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and only three in 2017, according to the Ministry of Health of Pakistan.

“I think it’s a very good news for Pakistan and for the rest of the world that polio is getting eradicated from this country. For the future we have very robust programs, we will be going moving forward and making this history in world for eradication of polio from this country,” said Hasan Orooj, chief of the Health Bureau in Islamabad.

Although Pakistan is still one of the few countries in the world with polio epidemic, Pakistan has nearly eradicated polio by organizing 8 to 9 times of extensive vaccination each year.

Polio is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. In about 0.5 percent of cases, there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. In those with muscle weakness, about 2 to 5 percent of children and 15 to 30 percent of adults die. Another 25 percent of people have minor symptoms such as fever and a sore throat and up to 5 percent have headache, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. — Reuters

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German farmers call for drought aid as heatwave ravages crops

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

A farmer holds a dried out sunflower plant in Germany. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

 

A prolonged heatwave and drought have left huge swathes of parched fields and drooping crops in Germany, particularly in the country’s north-east.

The German Farmers’ Association DBV said on Monday (July 30) that farmers need special aid of around 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion) because of damage to harvests.

DBV president Joachim Rukwied told Reuters that the damage caused runs into the billions, and said the aid should be paid to farmers who have lost 30 percent and more of their harvests.

At one farm in Brandenburg, sunflower plants that would normally be a head-high barely reached the knees of farmer Holger Lampe.

“We will not have any significant harvest here,” he told Reuters, adding that he was also struggling to find adequate grazing for his cows.

German federal and state authorities will meet on Tuesday (July 31) to assess the situation. German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner is to report to the cabinet on Wednesday (August 1) about the impact of the drought on farmers.

This year’s drought and heatwave caused damage to crops in large parts of northern Europe, with harvests in Britain, Poland, and Scandinavia also suffering. — Reuters

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Deadly Greek fires kill at least 20, residents flee homes

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

 

Greek deadly fires (REUTERS/Costas Baltas)

At least 20 people died and more than 100 were injured on Monday (July 23) as a wildfire swept through a small resort town in eastern Greece with many victims trapped by flames as they fled.

The fire in Mati village, some 29 km (18 miles) east of Athens, was by far the country’s worst since blazes devastated the southern Peloponnese peninsula in August 2007, killing dozens. Monday’s fire was one of several that broke out in the country amid a sweltering heat wave.

Mati is in the Rafina region which is popular with local tourists, particularly pensioners and children at holiday camps. The village was devastated by the fast-moving blaze that started at about 5 p.m (1400 GMT) and caught those unaware in its path.

A Reuters witness saw at least four charred bodies on a narrow road clogged with cars heading to the safe haven of a nearby beach. Dozens of people scrambled into the ocean as the blaze raged close to the shore, and they were picked up by passing boats.

Kostas Laganos, one of several Mati residents who ran into the sea with the fire at their backs and who ducked underwater to escape the flames likened his ordeal to that suffered by the citizens of Pompeii, who suffocated to death when the volcano Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

As darkness fell, the extent of the disaster was impossible to gauge.

Greece issued an urgent appeal for help to tackle fires which raged uncontrolled in several places across the country, destroying homes and disrupting major transport links. Greece said it needed air and land assets from its European Union partners. Cyprus and Spain offered assistance. — Reuters

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