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The number of people in July taken to hospital by ambulance for symptoms of heatstroke and other heat-related maladies tumbled about 50 percent from the previous year to 8,388, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Wednesday.

The sharp drop from 16,431 in July 2019 was apparently caused by relatively lower temperatures due to heavy rain in Kumamoto and other prefectures, as well as unusually cloudy weather during the month.

Of the total, 18 people died and 192 were in serious condition.

People aged 65 or over accounted for 58.5 percent of the total figure.

By prefecture, the number of sufferers was highest in Osaka, at 716, followed by Aichi, at 547, and Hyogo, at 428.

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