Because its dates are dictated by the lunar calendar, Ramadan (referred to as Ramzan in Pakistan) falls at a different time each year. This year, observed in June, Ramadan has coincided with a brutal heat wave, with temperatures reaching 113 degrees in Karachi and the rest of Sindh Province, the highest temperatures recorded in 15 years. During the holy month of Ramzan, Muslims are obliged to fast from dawn until sundown, without intaking any food or water. This unfortunate intersection of weather and religious observance, intensified by lengthy and chronic power outages, has resulted in the deaths of over 800 people to date.
Some Muslims, the elderly, sick, pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating women, children and travelers are excused from the fast, although these high mortality numbers suggest not everyone who could has availed themselves of this exception.