More than 500 deaths have been reported in the northwestern US and western Canada as a heat wave brought all-time high temperatures, officials said.
The state of Oregon recorded 63 deaths linked to the extreme temps, including those of 45 people in Multnomah County that cited hyperthermia — which includes illnesses caused by hot weather, such as heat stroke — as the preliminary cause, the Oregon Health Authority said.
By comparison, Oregon only had 12 fatalities from hyperthermia from 2017 to 2019, officials said.
Hospitals across the state also reported a surge of hundreds of visits in recent days due to heat-related sicknesses, the agency said.
“This was a true health crisis that has underscored how deadly an extreme heat wave 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.”
In British Columbia, there were at least 486 sudden deaths logged over the course of five days — nearly three times higher than the average number that would occur in the province during the same period, the province’s Coroners Service said.
“Since the onset of the heat wave late last week, the BC Coroners Service has experienced a significant increase in deaths reported where it is suspected that extreme heat has been contributory,” Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement, CNN reported.
David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, called the extreme weather in the northwest region of the country “unprecedented.”
“In some of these places, their (temperature) records are being annihilated,” Phillips said.
Lytton, a town in central British Columbia, smashed Canada’s all-time hottest temperature record three times this week.
Meanwhile, in the US Northwest, temperatures in Washington state and Oregon climbed to above 100 degrees — with Portland setting record highs three days in a row, including 116 degrees on Sunday.