On 17 April, a case of cholera was first detected in Pir Koh, a remote mountain town in Balochistan province. Since then, more than 2,000 people have been infected and six have died, according to Dr Ahmed Baloch, from the health department in Balochistan.
Residents of Pir Koh say they have no access to clean drinking water. Hassan Bugti, a local resident, said nearby ponds had dried up this year due to a lack of rain, and their only source of water was a pipeline that “rusted and polluted the water supply,” said Hassan Bugti, a local resident.
Residents are being forced to drink dirty water, he said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has called for “emergency relief measures” to prevent a cholera outbreak in Pir Kohat. And the military has been called in to provide mobile water tanks to ensure safe drinking water to the population and to set up medical camps to treat the sick.
The outbreak occurred when Pakistan was facing a severe water crisis and heat waves began which the Pakistan Meteorological Department said had continued across the country since the beginning of the month.
Jacobabad, one of the warmest cities in the world, in central Sindh province, hit 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) the day before. The city’s average high temperature this month is about 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
The heat is unlikely to subside any time soon. Although dust storms, gusts of wind and scattered rains and thunderstorms have brought relief to some parts of the country in the last few days, temperatures are expected to rise again from Wednesday, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman on Monday said that Pakistan is one of the ten countries in the world with the highest water pressure and the ten most at risk for climate change.
The country’s major dams are “dead now, and water resources are scarce as well as competitive,” Rehman told CNN. “This is a pervasive survival crisis and must be taken seriously.”
India is suffering from heat
The heatwave was also felt in neighboring India, where temperatures in the capital Delhi crossed 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday.
In recent months, India has been experiencing intense heat waves, with average temperatures reaching 122-year highs in northwestern India in April and nationwide in March.
Extreme heat has crossed the 49 degree Celsius mark in Delhi for the first time this year, with temperatures reaching 49.2 degrees Celsius (120.5 degrees Fahrenheit) at Mungeshpur Meteorological Center in Delhi and 49.1 degrees Celsius (120.3 degrees Fahrenheit) at Nahenjafgar Meteorological Station on Sunday. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). New Delhi has been suffering for 14 days above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in May.
Gurgaon, southwest of New Delhi, recorded the highest temperature since May 10, 1966, with 48.1 degrees Celsius (118.5 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, according to IMD.
IMD has forecast some relief for Delhi with cloudy and clear skies for the next few days. However, it did predict a return to high temperatures in some parts of the region by the end of the week.
India often experiences summer heat waves in May and June, but temperatures begin to rise in March and April this year.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), India and Pakistan are among the countries most affected by the climate crisis. Experts say climate change is causing frequent and prolonged heat waves, affecting more than a billion people in the two countries.
IPCC lead author and senior researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Dr. Chandni Singh said the heatwave was “testing the limits of human survival.”
CNN’s Sophia Saifi reports from Islamabad, journalist Asim Khan reports from Quetta, CNN’s Esha Mitra reports from New Delhi, and Helen Reagan writes from Hong Kong. CNN’s Rhea Mogul and Robert Shackleford contributed to the report.