More than 800 people died in a week in British Columbia during the record-breaking heat wave that hit the province at the end of June, according to the BC Coroners Service.
The agency released the updated statistics Friday, which showed the province saw more than four times the average number of deaths (198) for the week of June 25 to July 1 over the five preceding years.
More than half of the deaths were reported on Monday, June 28 (147), Tuesday, June 29 (300) and Wednesday, June 30 (124).
The coroners service has yet to directly attributed any of the individual deaths to the heat, but speaking to reporters on July 2, Chief Coroner Lisa LaPointe said a connection was likely with many of the fatalities.
“It is believed likely the extreme weather B.C. has experienced in the past week is a significant contributing factor to the increased number of deaths,” LaPointe said.
The Fraser Health region bore the brunt of the deaths, 353, up from just 61 for the same week in 2020 and seven times higher than the five-year average for the period.
In Vancouver Coastal Health, 202 people died, up from 45 in the same week in 2020 and 4.5 times higher than the five-year average for the same week.
The BC Coroners Service says it is still investigating all of the fatalities to establish cause and manner of death, and will report its findings when the investigations are complete.
The provincial government and the leadership of BC Emergency Health Services have faced criticism over their preparedness for hand handling of the heat wave.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced a shakeup in the structure and management of the paramedic service, which faced numerous complaints about long delays during the extreme heat.