480 plus sudden deaths reported as heat wave hits Canada
At least 486 sudden deaths have been reported in Canada’s British Columbia since Friday, in what seems to be related to a record-breaking heat wave sweeping the province.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe announced the death toll in a briefing on Wednesday.
“Since the onset of the heat wave late last week, the BC Coroners Service has experienced a significant increase in reported deaths where it is suspected that extreme heat has been contributory,” Lapointe said.
In Lytton, the temperature reached an all-time record of 49°C on Tuesday, the highest ever recorded in Canada, raising the fatality rate almost three times the usual number.
Although not all the deaths were heat-related, many of the people who had died were found in houses that were not ventilated.
Further analyses based on the regions of occurrence, age, gender, health conditions, and housing will help find patterns in the deaths while determining whether heat played a crucial role in the deaths, Lapointe pointed out.
Due to the surge in sudden deaths in some areas, coroners have had delays in responding to scenes. The fatality rate is expected to increase by Friday as reports are updated.
Meanwhile, the unprecedented heat wave has also raised the chances of wildfires to a dangerously high level. Authorities have ordered evacuations in Lytton, located east of Vancouver.
More than 40 fires have been sparked in the last two days and after the temperature surge. A total of 67 wildfires are now burning in British Colombia Province.