Hundreds of deaths in Canada and in Oregon and Washington, in the northwestern United States, could have been caused by the historic heat wave that broke all records in cities that are often temperate.
In Oregon, more than 60 deaths have been linked to heat, health officials said Wednesday night, and the state’s largest county, Multnomah, attributed 45 deaths to weather since the warm wave began Friday.
The director of forensic services for the Canadian province of British Columbia, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 “sudden and unexpected deaths” between Friday and Wednesday at 1 pm. Usually, he noted, about 165 people die in the Canadian province in a five-day period.
“Although it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat-related, the significant increase in reported deaths is thought likely to be attributable to extreme weather,” LaPointe said in a statement.
As in Seattle, many Vancouver homes do not have air conditioning.
“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people have died from it,” Police Sgt. Steve Addison said in a statement.
The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists say is a high pressure dome over the northwestern United States, and was exacerbated by human-generated climate change, which is increasing the likelihood of these extreme weather events occurring. weather. Seattle, Portland and many other cities broke heat records, with temperatures in some places exceeding 115 ° F (46 ° C).
There are multiple injured, including police officers and civilians living in the area.
Although temperatures had dropped sharply on Wednesday in western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, the interior regions remained in sweltering heat as the system shifted eastward into the western mountainous region and the plains.
Heat alerts were issued in parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, as well as Saskatchewan and southern Alberta, where “a prolonged, dangerous and historic heat wave will persist this week,” according to the government agency Environment Canada.
In Oregon, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner attributed at least 45 deaths to hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature caused by the body’s failure to cope with heat. The victims were between 44 and 97 years old.
The county, which includes Portland, said there were only 12 hyperthermia deaths in all of Oregon between 2017 and 2019.
“This was a true health crisis that has clearly shown how deadly a heat wave can be, especially for vulnerable people,” Dr. Jennifer Vines, the county health official, said in a statement.
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