The Canadian Federal Police announced that dozens of people died suddenly between Monday and Tuesday in the Vancouver region, and the deaths are likely related to the heat wave that hit western Canada and parts of the northwest United States.
At least two police stations in the Vancouver area have announced this 69 people died Suddenly since Monday, when the heat wave reached its peak.
“We believe that heat contributed to most of the deaths,” a police statement said, adding that most of the victims were elderly.
“This moment can be deadly for vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues,” Burnaby spokesman Mike Callang said, urging people to “reassure their loved ones…and neighbours.”
The message was immediately reinforced by British Columbia Premier John Horgan. “This is the hottest week the people of this area have ever experienced,” Horgan said. “This has devastating consequences for families and communities, but again, the way to get through this extraordinary moment is to stay together and check on [o estado de saúde] People we know are at risk, make sure you have cold compresses in the fridge.”
Vancouver, located on the Pacific coast, has had temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius for several days, well above the average 21 degrees at this time of year.
On Monday, Canada set a new record for high temperatures, as it reached 47.9 degrees Celsius in Lytton, British Columbia, about 250 kilometers east of Vancouver.
‘alarming’ heat wave
Environment Canada warned that “the duration of this heat wave is concerning as there is almost no rest period at night (…) this record heat wave will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.”
In addition to British Columbia, warnings were also issued for the easternmost provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as parts of the Yukon and Northwest Territories in northern Canada.
The area lacks air conditioners and fans. Cities have opened cooling centers, in addition to canceling COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and closing schools.
The heat wave also affected North American cities south of Vancouver earlier this week, such as Portland (Oregon) and Seattle (Washington), also known for its mild and humid climate, with temperatures reaching the highest temperatures since records began, in 1940.
On Monday afternoon, 46.1 degrees Celsius were recorded at Portland airport and 41.6 degrees Celsius at Seattle airport, according to the US Weather Service (NWS).
The heat wave, which has sparked several wildfires on both sides of the US-Canada border, is due to a phenomenon known as “thermal dome,” where high pressures trap hot air in the area.
The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization warned that “heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in global temperatures. They start early and end later, and increasingly affect human health and human health systems.”