Tents offering iced water and rehydration salts have mushroomed on street corners, run by rival political parties and the military. The residents in one neighbourhood hacked into a main water pipe and then danced delightedly in the spray.

The heat wave in the city of 20 million people coincided with severe electricity cuts, leaving many without fans, water or light, and the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours.

Some shops have refused to sell ice or water during the day, citing religious laws that mean they can be fined. It is also illegal to eat or drink in public from dawn to dusk. Temperatures shot up to 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) at the weekend, the hottest since 1981, although they dipped to 38C (100F) on Thursday. Forecasters have been predicting rain for days, but there has been no significant fall.

An influx of dead means body bags have stacked up on the floor of the morgues, said Anwar Kazmi, a senior official of the charitable organisation the Edhi Foundation. "The refrigeration unit was not working properly because there were too many bodies," he added. Kazmi stated more than 1,000 people had died of heat-related causes so far. The provincial government had done little except try to blame others, he said.

Latest News from World News Desk