In Canada, a historic heatwave kills dozens

The heat wave sweeping through western Canada has killed dozens of people in recent days, authorities said. A new all-time heat record has been set in the country with nearly 50 ° C northeast of Vancouver.

Canada had not experienced such high temperatures since 1937. Dozens of people have died suddenly in recent days in the Vancouver area, in the west of the country, an excess mortality directly attributed by the authorities to the scorching temperatures which reached 49.5 ° C, Tuesday June 29, an absolute record for the country.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, Federal Police) and Vancouver City Police have separately announced that at least 134 people have died suddenly since Friday in the Canadian metropolitan area of ​​the Pacific Coast, struggling with a historic heatwave, like the western United States.

“Vancouver has never experienced such heat and sadly dozens of people have died from it,” Vancouver Police spokesperson Steve Addison said in a statement.

For their part, the services of the medical examiner of the province indicated to have “recorded a significant increase in the number of reported deaths” since the end of last week “where the extreme heat played a role”. These services received 233 reports of deaths in the province between Friday and Monday, compared to about 130 on average for the same period under normal circumstances, they said in a statement.

“We believe that the heat contributed to the majority of the deaths”, also specified the federal police, adding that the majority of the victims are elderly.

“The hottest week ever”

“This weather can be deadly for vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues,” said RCMP spokesperson Mike Kalanj, urging people to “check if their relatives and neighbors are okay”.

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A message immediately echoed by the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan: “This is the hottest week that British Columbians have ever known,” he told a press conference.

“And there are consequences to that, dire consequences for families and communities, but again, the way to get through this extraordinary time is to stick together, to check on (the state of health) of people. that we know at risk, ”added John Horgan.

Mercury again easily crossed the 30 degree mark Tuesday in Vancouver, well above the normal of 21 degrees this season, while inland the temperature was unbearable.

For a third day in a row, the village of Lytton, some 260 km northeast of Vancouver, set a new all-time record for Canadian heat, with 49.5 degrees, according to the Canadian Weather Service. The mercury also reached 42 degrees in the ski resort of Whistler, north of Vancouver, according to this service.

“More frequent and more intense”

“The duration of this heatwave is worrying because there is little respite at night (…). This record heat wave will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses”, warned the Canadian Ministry of the Environment on its weather site.

In addition to British Columbia, heat wave warnings have also been issued for the eastern provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as for parts of the Yukon and Northwest Territories to the north. from Canada.

In the region, air conditioners and fans are out of stock. Cities have opened refreshment centers. Vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 have been canceled and schools closed.

The heatwave also hit American cities south of Vancouver, such as Portland (Oregon) and Seattle (Washington State), also known for their temperate and humid climate, and where the temperature has reached record highs since the archives began, in 1940.

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It had been 46.1 ° C at the Portland airport on Monday afternoon and 41.6 ° C at the Seattle airport, according to readings by the US Meteorological Service (NWS).

This heat wave, at the origin of several forest fires on both sides of the Canada-United States border, is explained by a phenomenon called “heat dome”: high pressures trap the hot air in the air. region.

“Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense as greenhouse gas concentrations cause global temperatures to rise. They start earlier and end later and take a growing toll on human health and systems. health, “warned the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization on Tuesday.

With AFP

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