At least three elderly people died and more than 800 people, including four schoolchildren, were taken to the hospital Tuesday, apparently suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion, as the Japanese archipelago continued to bake under scorching temperatures.
It was the sixth day in a row that temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or higher were registered in some parts of the country.
In Okutama, a town in western Tokyo, a 92-year-old man was found collapsed in a field in the early afternoon. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The four schoolchildren were taken to a hospital after becoming ill in the morning while playing soccer at an elementary school in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward. They were not in serious condition.
The mercury topped 35 degrees in some parts of the country Tuesday, with the Meteorological Agency warning people to take measures to prevent heat exhaustion.
“Our bodies are not used to high temperatures at this time of the year, so we should drink water often even if we are not thirsty (to avoid dehydration),” said a Fire and Disaster Management Agency official.
The period of hot weather was likely to peak Tuesday as clouds surrounding Typhoon Nangka, located in the Pacific south of Japan, are expected to partially cover the archipelago on Wednesday, according to the weather agency.
A total of 3,058 people were taken to hospitals across the country due to suspected heatstroke or heat exhaustion in the week beginning July 6, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
The figure was 6.5 times higher than the 471 people hospitalized in the previous week. It included four individuals who died on the way to hospital, according to the agency.
Of the total, 52 required hospitalization for more than three weeks and 945 others were hospitalized for shorter periods. Nearly half of the total were victims aged 65 or older.
By prefecture, Saitama topped the list with 190, followed by Osaka with 185 and Kumamoto with 172.
Electricity consumption in the service area of Tokyo Electric Power Co. surged, apparently due to strong demand as households and companies cranked up their air conditioner units.
On Monday, electricity demand reached 93 percent of Tepco’s overall supply capacity between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the highest level so far this summer, the company said.
As Monday’s electricity demand topped Tepco’s estimate, the company increased hydropower generation to ensure a stable supply.
Maximum demand for the day came to 43.5 million kilowatts, up by some 10 million kilowatts from a week before.
More than 2,400 people died from heatstroke in Japan over five years through 2014 and about 80 percent of them were aged 70 or older, a survey conducted by Showa University professor Yasufumi Miyake said Tuesday.
In announcing the results Miyake, who specializes in emergency medicine, emphasized the need to use air conditioners to lower room temperatures and drink water to fight the heat.
“Public awareness of heatstroke has increased,” Miyake said, noting the effects of preventive measures and early visits to doctors in lowering the mortality rate.
Miyake looked into details of medical expenses for treating patients who visited institutions across Japan during June-September 2010 to 2014, in order to analyze cases in which patients received heatstroke-related diagnoses. The number of heatstroke patients was highest in 2013, reaching 407,948. The lowest was 285,824 in 2014.