Coroners responded to nearly 100 deaths on Vancouver Island during heat wave

Coroners responded to nearly 100 deaths in the Vancouver Island region during the recent heat wave, more than double the average number of deaths reported during the same period since 2016.

New data released by the BC Coroners Service shows 97 deaths in the Island Health region were attended by coroners between June 25 and July 1. The five-year average is 41.6 deaths over the same seven-day period.

On Friday, the province’s chief coroner said 719 sudden and unexpected deaths were reported in B.C. during the historic heat wave.

Lisa Lapointe said the number of fatalities across the province was three times more than what would normally occur during the same period.

Lapointe said the extreme weather is believed to be a significant contributing factor in the jump in deaths, but the number is expected to increase as more information is compiled.

The highest number of deaths was reported on Tuesday, when coroners on Vancouver Island attended 30 calls. Coroners across the province attended 295 deaths that day, with the bulk of them – 162 – reported in the Fraser Health region.

Lapointe said last week that extra coroners have been working in the field and many of the people who were found dead were elderly and living alone without air conditioning.

With files from The Canadian Press