Canadian west coast witnessed harsh weather which resulted in 486 sudden deaths in British Columbia, weather analysts predicted that the heatwave may prolong.
Canada British Columbia’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 “sudden and unexpected deaths” between Friday and Wednesday. Normally, she said about 165 people would die in the Canadian province over a five-day period.
She said on Wednesday afternoon that the BC Coroners Service received at least 486 reports of deaths between Friday and Wednesday afternoon – a total she said was preliminary and expected to increase.
Hundreds of sudden deaths, many of them suspected of being heat-related, have been reported during Canada’s record-breaking heatwave, officials say.
Some 486 fatalities were recorded over the past five days in British Columbia alone, a 195% increase on the usual amount over that period.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered condolences to families of the victims, many of whom were elderly. Abnormally high temperatures have been recorded across North America.
British Columbia Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said on Wednesday: “It is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather BC has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province.”
She said many of those who died in the heatwave had lived alone in homes that were not ventilated.
Ms Lapointe added that the western province had only seen three heat-related deaths over the past three to five years.
The climate crisis means that summer is a time of increasingly dangerous heat. This week in the pacific north-west, temperature records are not just being broken, they are being obliterated. Temperatures reached a shocking 47.9C in British Columbia, Canada.
While humans can survive temperatures of well over 50C when humidity is low, when both temperatures and humidity are high, neither sweating nor soaking ourselves can cool us. What matters is the “wet-bulb” temperature – given by a thermometer covered in a wet cloth – which shows the temperature at which evaporative cooling from sweat or water occurs. Humans cannot survive prolonged exposure to a wet-bulb temperature beyond 35C because there is no way to cool our bodies. Not even in the shade, and not even with unlimited water.
A heat warning is in effect for Ottawa-Gatineau and parts of eastern Ontario.
The alert from Environment Canada warns of afternoon temperatures over 30 degrees and humidex values near 40, with very little relief from the heat overnight.
The City of Ottawa said it’s opening two emergency cooling centres at City Hall and the Plant Recreation Centre at 3 p.m. on Monday. Additional sites are set to open on Tuesday.