‘Not a Canada problem, it is a global challenge’: Heat dome linked to dozens of deaths in Canada and US states

A ‘heat dome’ engulfing Canada and the US states of Washington and Oregon is thought to have caused dozens of deaths, officials said on Tuesday.

Police in British Columbia said they had responded to 65 sudden death callouts since the heatwave began in the region on Friday.

“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it,” Sergeant Steve Addison of Vancouver Police said on Tuesday.

A beach in Vancouver, British Columbia
Image:A beach in Vancouver, British Columbia

“Our officers are stretched thin, but we’re still doing everything we can to keep people safe,” he added.

Canada saw 103 heat records broken on Monday across the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

They included an all-time Canadian temperature high of 47.9C (118.2F) in Lytton, British Columbia.

The ‘heat dome’, which is the result of high pressure lingering over a particular area and trapping the heat, has also caused devastation across the border in the US.

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People cool off in a public fountain during an unprecedented heat wave in Portland, Oregon, U.S. June 27, 2021. REUTERS/Maranie Staab
Image:Residents in Oregon cool off in a public fountain

Washington State and Oregon have both seen temperatures well above 40C (104F) since Friday.

People have been forced to sleep in ‘cooling shelters’, while others have experienced power cuts.

A Seattle resident with his homemade cooling system
Image:A Seattle resident with his homemade cooling system
A local Christian group gives out water in Seattle on Monday. Pic: AP
Image:A local Christian group gives out water in Seattle on Monday. Pic: AP

In Salem, Oregon on Sunday, the mercury rose to a record-breaking 44.4C (112F), while the National Weather Service recorded 42.2C (107.9F) in Spokane, Washington – another all-time high.

The heat is thought to have claimed at least six lives across the north west of the US, including a state nursery worker who was found unresponsive in a field and two homeless people in Oregon.

Commenting on the crisis in Canada, British Columbia’s premier John Horgan said that it served as a “big lesson that the climate crisis is not a fiction”.

People cool down in a canal in Alta, Canada. Pic: AP
Image:People cool down in a canal in Alta, Canada. Pic: AP

“This is not a British Columbia problem, it’s not a Canada problem, it is a global challenge,” he said.

“And we all need to have citizens of the world coming together as we have, quite frankly, to address a global pandemic.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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