Stifling heatwave linked to sudden deaths in Vancouver
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – A sweltering heat wave that has swept through western Canada for several days is believed to be a contributing factor to the dozens of sudden death calls received by police in the Vancouver area, the authorities announced on Tuesday.
Cpl. Mike Kalanj of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Burnaby said the detachment responded to 25 sudden death calls over a 24-hour period starting Monday. The deaths are still under investigation and many of those who died were elderly, he said.
Temperatures in the Vancouver area hit just under 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) on Monday, but humidity made it feel close to 104 degrees (40 Celsius) in areas not near water, Environment Canada said.
The record heat wave could ease over parts of British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories by Wednesday, but any respite for the Prairie provinces is further away.
In Vancouver, the police department said it had redeployed dozens of officers and asked the public to call 911 only for emergencies as the heat-related deaths had depleted frontline resources and delayed response times. .
“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying of it,” said the Sgt. Steve Addison said in a press release. “Our officers are running out of steam, but we’re still doing everything we can to keep people safe.”
By mid-afternoon as of Tuesday, he said, police had responded to more than 65 sudden deaths since the heat wave began on Friday.
“The vast majority of these cases are heat related,” Addison said, adding that on a typical day, Vancouver police respond to between three and four sudden death calls.
Ingrid Jarrett, CEO of the British Columbia Hotel Association, said residents in parts of the Lower Mainland, Victoria and the Okanagan region have booked air-conditioned rooms so they can continue to work and get some sleep.
Environment Canada said the weather system broke 103 heat records in British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories on Monday. Those records include a new Canadian high temperature of 118 degrees (47.9 Celsius) set in Lytton, British Columbia, breaking the previous record of 116 degrees (46.6 Celsius) set in the same village a day earlier.