The B.C. Coroners Service issued an update today to address the sudden deaths during the heat wave, which have been previously announced by several local police forces.
Yesterday (June 29), B.C. Coroners Service chief coroner Lisa Lapointe issued a statement explaining that the service usually receives about 130 reports of death over a four-day period. However, from June 25 to 3 p.m. on June 28, there were at least 233 deaths reported in the province.
Today, Lapointe stated that between June 25 and 1 p.m. today, there have been at least 486 sudden and unexpected deaths reported to the B.C. Coroners Service. She added that this represents a 195 percent increase from what would normally occur in B.C. over a five-day period, which would be about 165 deaths.
As this number is preliminary, it is expected to increase as coroners continue to file reports about deaths.
"Due to the much-greater-than-usual number of reported deaths in some areas, there have been instances where there have been delays in coroners responding to scenes of reported death,” Lapointe said.
In addition, the causes of death are still under investigation.
"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,” Lapointe said.
Lapointe said that an update on the number of deaths is expected on Friday (June 25).
Yesterday, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) announced that its officers had responded to over 65 sudden deaths while Burnaby RCMP reported over 25 sudden deaths suspected to be related to the heat wave.
Today, Kamloops RCMP reported six sudden deaths since June 25, which is the double the number of the same period last year.
In contrast, Richmond RCMP stated that it responded to four sudden deaths from June 26 to 28, which was not different from the norm.
Both E-Comm 911 Service, which experienced a record number of calls on the weekend, and the VPD stated that there were delays in response times as their resources were under strain.