Death toll in Canadian heat wave hits 54

AFP-JIJI

The death toll in a weeklong eastern Canadian heat wave has reached 54, officials said Friday.

Most of the victims linked to the “overwhelming heat” were in the Montreal area, which recorded 28 fatalities, metropolitan health authorities said in an email.

The other victims were reported in the southwest of Quebec, the provincial health ministry said.

On Thursday, Environment Canada had forecast a maximum temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) but said the heat index would make it feel like 45 C.

The mercury has regularly topped 30 C since June 29, accompanied by stifling humidity, but temperatures should drop back to seasonal averages from Saturday.

“Looking at the weather forecast, we are waiting for a return to normal in the coming hours,” said Health Ministry spokeswoman Noemie Vanheuverzwijn.

Most of the victims in Montreal were men in their 50s or older living in vulnerable conditions without air conditioning, regional public health director Mylene Drouin has said.

Ontario has also been coping with high temperatures but no deaths have been reported there.

In 2010, around 100 people in the Montreal area died when extreme heat stifled the area.