The 2021 extreme heat wave caused 619 deaths in Western Canada

Toronto (Canada), June 7 (EFE).- The extreme heat wave that Western Canada suffered in late June and early July 2021 caused the death of 619 people, mostly elderly and people with health disabilities, according to an official report made public on Tuesday.

The report prepared by the coroner’s office in the province of British Columbia, on Canada’s Pacific coast, also accused Canadian authorities of a lack of coordination and a slow response to temperatures that hit a record high. 49.6 degrees centigrade.

98% of those who died died while inside their homes, the vast majority of which had no air conditioning or even fans, nor were they prepared to protect the inhabitants from the high temperatures.

Many lived in “socially or materially disadvantaged” neighborhoods and 67% of the 619 who died were over the age of 70 while 56% lived alone.

The report also found that many of those who died said the high temperatures were affecting their health.

The extreme heat wave from June 25 to July 1 caused a meteorological phenomenon, called a “heat dome”, over British Columbia consisting of a build-up of warm air in the upper layers of the atmosphere that can affect pressure and winds.

The “heat dome” also caused hundreds of fires. A few hours after recording the highest temperature recorded in Canadian history, 49.6 ºC, the town of Lytton, which has a population of approximately 250 and is located in the interior of British Columbia, was completely destroyed by flames.

This Tuesday, the medical director of the British Columbia coroner’s office, Dr Jatinder Baidwan, warned that there will be more heat waves in the future like the one the Canadian province suffered nearly one year and that the authorities must be prepared to prevent deaths.

Baidwan said public warnings of extreme heat must have clear protocols so the emergency services response is not delayed, as happened in 2021.

(c) EFE Agency

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