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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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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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Japanese find ways to beat the heatwave as temperatures hit record highs

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

A businessman wipes his face while walking on a street during a heatwave in Tokyo, Japan July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato


Over 200 people in Yokohama’s Chinatown splashed water on streets and pavements in the hopes of providing some relief from the heat as temperatures nationwide rose to record highs on Monday (July 23) and the death toll mounted to over 65 dead in the last week.

Kyodo News Agency reported that at least 65 people died of heat stroke and over 20,000 people were hospitalized between July 16-22. According to the Fire and Defence Management Agency, at least 12 died the week before that.

Shouting “get cooler”, the crowd in Yokohama participated in an annual national event repeated across the nation that seeks to bring back an ancient tradition dating back hundreds of years called “uchimizu”, which is known to cool a street down – even if briefly – by a few degrees Celsius.

Today, which also happens to be the first day of midsummer in the Asian calendar and aptly called ‘Taisho’ or ‘blistering heat’ in Japanese, some companies also took to allowing their employees to work from home.

Since 2015, Tokyo-based Infoteria Corporation has been allowing its workers to telecommute on days in the summer when the heat reaches 35 degrees celsius (95 Fahrenheit) such as today.

Engineer Hidekazu Kishimoto says his long one hour and a half commute one-way to work is just too exhausting in this heat. His boss, Hitoshi Nagasawa agrees, saying the program has been good for employees’ morale.

At least 2,000 companies have also signed up this week to reduce commuting congestion and ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics by promoting working from home.

On Monday, temperatures rose to a record 41.1 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) in Kumagaya city northwest of Tokyo in a heatwave. The temperatures were also the highest in its recorded history dating back to 1896, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. — Reuters

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