Heat wave in Canada and the northwestern United States: Death numbers rise

The heat wave claims the first deaths.

For the third day in a row, Canada recorded the hottest temperatures in the country since records began. “At 4:20 pm (local time) the Lytton weather station reported 49.5 degrees Celsius,” said the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on Twitter.

Police and communities reported dozens of deaths related to the unprecedented heat wave that hit western Canada and the northwestern United States.

This dog is looking to cool off in a Vancouver fountainPhoto: JENNIFER GAUTHIER / REUTERS

▶ ︎ At least 69 people died in the city of Vancouver, including many elderly people with previous illnesses, according to the national police agency RCMP. “While this is still under investigation, heat plays a role in the majority of deaths,” said a police officer.

There were also numerous deaths in other communities, but no official figures are yet available.

“We are in the middle of the hottest week British Columbia has ever seen,” said the head of government of the province on the west coast of the country, John Horgan, at a press conference. He called for people to be looked out for at risk of keeping cold compresses in the refrigerator and being in the coolest part of the house.

The Environment Ministry issued warnings for several provinces that the “ongoing, dangerous and historic heat wave will be ongoing this week.”

The US cities of Portland, Oregon and Seattle in the northwest of the USA have also recorded the highest temperatures since records began there in 1940. Air conditioning and fans were sold out in many places. Some people looked for protection from the heat in underground garages or in their air-conditioned cars.

At Mission Park in Spokane, Washington, two firefighters help a homeless man who is troubled by the temperatures

At Mission Park in Spokane, Washington, two firefighters help a homeless man who is troubled by the temperaturesPhoto: Colin Mulvany / AP

The phenomenon of the “heat dome” is responsible for the extreme heat, which means that the high pressure in the atmosphere holds the hot air in the region. According to the weather experts at the Washington Post, the intensity of this heat dome is “statistically so rare that on average it can only be expected once every few thousand years”. However, man-made climate change “made these types of extraordinary events more likely”.


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