‘This number will increase’: B.C. coroner says heatwave likely cause of more than 100 deaths

B.C.’s Coroner will still need to confirm the stats, but it’s believed dozens of people have died the last few days due to the heat. Ria Renouf is hearing from first responders who are calling this unprecedented.

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — More than 100 people have died in B.C. in the four days since the heatwave struck, with their sudden deaths being linked to the extreme temperatures. Both police and the province’s chief coroner say they expect the number to climb.

Lisa LaPointe says the BC Coroners Service has been called to 233 deaths since Friday, noting the average number for a four-day period is 130.

“Since the onset of the heatwave 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,” says a statement.

“This number will increase as data continues to be updated. Coroners are carefully gathering all information available for each death reported, to determine the cause and manner of death, and whether excessive heat played a role.”

LaPointe says older people, babies, young children, and people with medical conditions are particularly vulnerable.

Police across Metro Vancouver are urging everyone to check on their neighbours and loved ones, confirming they continue to be called to dozens of sudden deaths.

At 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Vancouver police said officers responded to more than 65 sudden deaths since the heatwave began on Friday, “with more casualties being reported by the hour.”

“Today alone, officers had responded to 20 sudden deaths as of 1:45 p.m., with more than a dozen others waiting for police to be dispatched,” reads a statement from Sgt. Steve Addison, noting the vast majority of the deaths are related to heat.

“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it,” Addison said. “Our officers are stretched thin, but we’re still doing everything we can to keep people safe.”

The force says it is redeploying “dozens” of officers and are urging people to only call 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency, saying heat-related deaths have “deleted” frontline resources and “severely delayed” response times across Vancouver.

Burnaby RCMP say officers responded to more than 30 sudden deaths calls since Monday, many of them seniors. Investigators believe heat was a contributing factor in the majority of the deaths.

“We are seeing this weather can be deadly for vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues. It is imperative we check on one another during this extreme heat,” said Cpl. Mike Kalanj.

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Surrey RCMP responded to 22 sudden deaths Monday and at least 13 deaths on Tuesday.

While the causes of deaths can’t yet be confirmed, Surrey Mounties say they are responding to more than a usual number of deaths since the beginning of the extreme weather conditions.

In Delta, police say they have were called to nine deaths in a 24-hour period.

Monday was the hottest in this heatwave, with temperatures in many areas of the Lower Mainland feeling like they were in the 40s.

Click here to find cooling centres across the region.

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