Death toll rises in US, Canada due to historic heatwave

Death toll rises in US, Canada due to historic heatwave
Death toll rises in US, Canada due to historic heatwave

A heatwave that smashed all-time high-temperature records in western Canada and the US Northwest has left a rising death toll in its wake as officials brace for more sizzling weather and the threat of wildfires.

The worst of the heat had passed by Wednesday, but the state of Oregon reported 63 deaths linked to the heatwave. Multnomah County, which includes Portland, reported 45 of those deaths since Friday, with the county Medical Examiner citing hyperthermia as the preliminary cause.

By comparison, all of Oregon had only 12 deaths from hyperthermia from 2017 to 2019, the statement said. Across the state, hospitals reported a surge of hundreds of visits in recent days due to heat-related illness, the Oregon Health Authority said.

In British Columbia, at least 486 sudden deaths were reported over five days, nearly three times the usual number that would occur in the province over that period, the BC Coroners Service said Wednesday.

“This was a true health crisis that has underscored how deadly an extreme heatwave can be,” Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said in the statement. “As our summers continue to get warmer, I suspect we will face this kind of event again.”

The heat dome, a weather phenomenon trapping heat and blocking other weather systems from moving in, weakened as it moved east, but was still intense enough to set records from Alberta to Manitoba, said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, a government agency.


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