VANCOUVER — The BC Coroners Service now believes 580 people died in a record heat wave, but warns that figure is still preliminary and subject to change.
On Monday, the service announced that the number of people who died during the week of the heat wave had risen to 815; the five-year average for deaths during that week is just 198.
But CTV News has now learned that in her latest discussion with her chief medical health officer, the province’s chief coroner is now attributing 580 of those deaths to extreme heat at this point.
“That’s a working number, that is not a final number yet,” said Lisa LaPointe. “The medical certificates for some were signed as ‘interim’ which means the cause of death is pending final resolution of review of medical records and interviews with families.”
While the temperatures were similar across the Pacific Northwest region, B.C. saw far more deaths than U.S. states under the record-breaking heat dome. Their officials have already published detailed demographic information, but the same findings will take much longer north of the border.
“Our challenge, of course, is while we had a 400 per cent increase in death, we still have the same number of staff,” said LaPointe. “Our coroners are doing the very best they can in terms of gathering information.”
The vast majority of people died in the Metro Vancouver area, with Fraser Health seeing the most fatalities during the heat wave.