Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Record heatwave kills 32 across Japan in a week

Last week's unseasonably hot heatwave claimed the lives of 32 people according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, while a total of 11,219 people were ferried to hospitals across Japan suffering from symptoms of heatstroke or heat fatigue, the government said Tuesday.

The death toll caused by the heat marks the highest number of people to die in a single week this season, with all 32 victims being pronounced dead after being rushed to hospital by ambulance, the fire agency said.

Of the most cases from Aug. 3 to Aug. 8 last week, the agency said that Tokyo presented the most cases related to heat stroke and exhaustion with 971 people being rushed to hospital, followed by Japan's second city, Osaka, with 911 cases and Aichi prefecture, in central Japan, with 749.

Of those admitted, doctors have required 331 people to remain in hospital for treatment for more than three weeks, which highlights the severity of the situation, while around 3,800 were likely to be discharged earlier, due to their conditions not being as severe.

  • Of those that died, about half of the 32 were elderly people, with doctors suggesting that elderly people don't acknowledge the heat in the same way as younger generations, and as such don't take the necessary preventative measures to combat heatstroke or exhaustion, as they generally don't feel as hot or as thirsty as their younger counterparts.

As the unseasonably hot weather continued across the country during this week, with the mercury in Tokyo often breaching the 36 degree line, the agency is calling on families and neighbors to be particularly vigilant for elderly residents and to intervene if necessary, and for the nation to generally stay hydrated and not spend long periods of time directly under the sun.

In a tragic example of the risks to the elderly and the fact that some of the most serious heatstroke and exhaustion cases actually happen indoors, three elderly sisters in their 80s and 90s were found dead from heatstroke at their home in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward on Saturday.

The bodies of the three women were found in their bedroom and living room of their home at around 10 a.m. Saturday, according to local media and police, with the police adding that they had tragically been dead for three or four days before their bodies were found.

Eventually a family friend was asked to check on the elderly sisters as the family had had no contact with them for a while and it was then that the unfortunate scene was found.

According to sources close to the family, the three sisters had lived together for more than 10 years since their respective partners had passed away, and when their bodies were found, the air conditioner was switched off, with the temperature in the rooms rising to above 30 degrees. 

  Xinhua -

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