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Mauritania Faces Deadly Unprecedented Heatwave

More than two dozen people have died from heat stroke, dehydration or suspected heat-related conditions in Mauritania, which is witnessing scorching temperatures exceeding 50°C (122°F), for the first time in 50 years.

Medical sources and locals have reported deaths in various regions. On May 26, 2013 three people died in the Province of Hodh Ech Chargui (can be translated into Eastern Basin) in Timbedra due to high temperatures. Twelve others suffered a similar fate in Brakna Province. Two women also succumbed to dehydration the town of Boulahrath in the Region of Assaba. In  the town of Al Syasa, in Tagant, the local population talks about a mysterious disease – some sort of fever [ar] which had spread along with the heatwave, killing three people. Medical and health authorities, sent samples from the victims to the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to determine the cause of death. By the time this post is online, the number of victims could have increased. In Boutlimit, 64km south east of Nouakchott, after nine people also died from that odd disease, primary schools directors decided to reduce the daily teaching hours so as to avoid exposing students to the scorching sun.

Another kind of wave is also sweeping the country: Complaints and protests across Mauritanian cities against the shortage of drinking water.

Lack of drinking water is causing widespread protests in Mauritania. Photograph from Dedda Ould Sheikh Ebrahim blog

Lack of drinking water is causing widespread protests in Mauritania. Photograph from Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim blog. Used with permission.

Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim blogs about this heatwave and about the reported death cases [ar]:

خلال يومين من الحر، خسرت بلادنا موريتانيا 17 شخصًا، بسبب الحرارة المرتفعة مات 12 منهم في ولاية لبراكنة وسيدتين في قرية بولحراث التابعة لولاية لعصابة. و3 أشخاص في قرية تسمى السياسة تتبع لولاية تكانت.

هذه الوفيات خلفت هلعا بين السكان المحليين، الذين ربطوا بين هذه الوفيات وموجة الحر التي تضرب المنطقة التي وصلت فيها درجات الحرارة إلى مستويات قياسية، تجاوزت حاجز الخمسين درجة مئوية، وهو أعلى مستوى تصله درجات الحرارة في موريتانيا خلال الخمسين سنة الماضية.

During two days of intense heat, our country Mauritania lost 17 people. Because of the heatwave, 12 died in the Brakna Province and two women in the Town of Boulahrath affiliated to the Assaba province, not to mention three from Al Syasa town in Tagant province.

These deaths instilled panic among the population who linked them with the heatwave hitting the region with temperatures reaching records and exceeding the threshold of 50°C. This is the highest level reached in Mauritania in the past 50 years.

Meanwhile, Alegcom blog cites an official source, attributing the causes of the deaths to Meningitis:

تربط الأوساط المحلية هذه الوفيات بموجة الحر التي تضرب المنطقة، التي وصلت فيها درجات الحرارة إلى مستويات قياسية، تجاوزت حاجز الخمسين درجة مئوية، وهو أعلى مستوى تصله درجات الحرارة في موريتانيا خلال الخمسين سنة الماضية.

Local experts tie these deaths with the heatwave hitting the region with temperatures reaching record numbers, exceeding 50° C which is the highest temperature on record in Mauritania during the past 50 years.

kankossainfo also spoke about how meningitis caused victims in Assaba province:

علمت كنكوصه إنفو من مصادر طبية متطابقة أن 14 شخصًا توفي حتي الآن في ولاية “لعصابة” جراء الإصابة بمرض التهاب السحايا المعروف محليا ببورويص الذي سُجلت منه حتى كتابة السطورر 34 حالة لدي الجهات الصحية  تماثلت منها 18 للشفاء ولا يزال اثنان رهن الحجز الطبي في مستشفي كيفة يتلقون العلاج، وبين مجموع الحالات 3 من كنكوصه توفيت منها حالة واحدة في مستوصف كنكوصه وهي طفلة من منطقة (وسط المدينة) فجر السبت 5 من مايو/ أيار وهي آخر حالة تُسجل في المقاطعة إلي الآن.

Kankossain Info knew from medical sources that 14 persons died so far in Assaba province because of Meningitis known locally by “Bibourouis”. So far, and at the time of writing these lines, 34 cases were registered by the Health Authorities, 18 of whom healed and two are still under quarantine at Kifa Hospital for treatment. And out of the three cases in Kankossa, one passed away at Kankossa clinic. The victim, a 5-year-old child died in the early hours of May 5 and this is the last case to be reported so far.

Activist and journalist Djibril Diallo resorts to sarcasm when describing the situation:

العطش يحصد أرواح المواطنين في بلد يقول ولد عبد العزيز إن خزائنه مليئة بفائض من العملات الصعبة. الخزينة العامة ليست جعبة جنرال.

Thirst is claiming the lives of citizens in a country which treasury boasts a surplus of hard currencies says Ould Abdelaziz. The Public Treasury is not a general's pocket.

Mohammed Val Ould Cheik also describes the suffering of the Mauritanians:

حالات الوفاة جراء موجة الحر الحالية حصدت 12 شخصا حتي الآن في ولاية لبراكنة وحدها وخمسة قري في لبراكنه تتظاهر عطشا، وخمسة وعشرون قرية أخري يمنعها العطش والحر من التظاهر!!! لك الله من مفجوعة يالبراكنة!!!

Death cases due to the current heatwave killed 12 people so far in Brakna region alone. Five towns in that province are protesting because of thirst while 25 other villages are unable to do so because of the thirst and heat precisely. Oh Brakna, May God be with you in your affliction !!!

Mauritanian doctor Moktar Ould Weddih casts doubts on his Facebook about the real reason behind deaths. According to him it is not the heatwave but a pandemic disease:

منذ ايام وحالات وفاة غامضة تظهر هنا وهناك في البدء صرّح مسئولو وزارة الصحة أن السبب هو التعرض لأشعة الشمس الحارقة وهو الأمر المعروف طبيا بضربة شمس!!!

لكن حالات الوفيات ازدادت وظهرت أمور جديدة تدل على أن السبب ليس ضربة شمس وإنما هو وباء ينتشر بين الناس، ومن الغريب أن المسئولين بدلا من الاضطلاع بمهامهم في البحث والاستنتاج وتوجيه الموارد اللازمة والاستعانة بخبراء في مجال الأوبئة مازالو متمسكين بنفس النظرية!!!

لذا أطالب بأن يعرض أصحاب هذه النظرية السخيفة إلى أشعة الشمس الحارقة هذه الأيام لكي يدركوا جيدا ما هي أعراض ضربة الشمس!!!

Mysterious death cases have been showing here and there for days. In the beginning, officials at the Ministry of Health stated that the reason is exposure to the burning sun rays. Which is medically known as heat stroke.
But deaths increased and new elements appeared showing that the reason is not heat stroke but an epidemic spreading among people. What is rather odd about that is that officials instead of carrying out their tasks in looking, analyzing, deducing and allocating the necessary resources and resorting to experts in epidemiology are still holding on to the same theory.!!!
That's why I demand to expose those who profess that silly theory to scorching sun rays these days so they truly realize what are the symptoms of heat stroke!!!

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