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B.C. records 486 sudden deaths, triple the usual number, during heat wave

Wednesday, June 30th 2021, 6:48 pm - 165 sudden deaths would normally occur in the province over that period

At least 486 sudden deaths were reported over five days during B.C.'s record-breaking heat wave, three times the usual number, the B.C. Coroners Service said Wednesday.

Normally, 165 sudden deaths would occur in the province over that period. The new tally, which accounts for deaths between Friday and 1 p.m. PT Wednesday, marks a 195 per cent increase, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement.

"While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather B.C. has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province," she said.

Lapointe said the number of deaths at 486 is preliminary and will increase as coroners enter death reports into the agency's system.

Coroners have been delayed in responding to scenes due to a surge in sudden deaths in some areas, Lapointe said.

She said the agency has reallocated resources and is working to minimize wait times.

"It is important we do not lose sight of the fact that each reported death is a person with a family and people who cared about them," she said.

"Once again, I extend my heartfelt condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one during this very difficult time."

Lapointe said an updated tally will be provided Friday.

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