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Nearly 1,500 died from summer heat waves in France, officials say


It was a deadly hot summer in France.

Nearly 1,500 people died from heat waves in the country, officials announced Sunday.

During the extreme heat waves, which lasted from June 24 to July 7 and July 21 to 27, a total of 1,435 deaths were reported, the country’s Ministry of Solidarity and Health said in a statement.

In the first episode, 567 heat wave-related deaths were reported, while 868 deaths were recorded during the second. This was a 9.6% increase in death rates compared to the normal mortality rates during those time periods, officials said.

France saw record-breaking heat this summer, topping the national record for hottest day ever recorded on July 28 when an area off the Mediterranean coast in the south of France reached 46 degrees Celsius, equal to nearly 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

People over the age of 75 were the most affected by the heat, with 974 deaths reported — accounting for approximately 68% of the total number.

Despite the figures, the Ministry of Solidarity and Health said the figures are not abnormal for heat waves in comparison with previous years. In 2015 heat waves, there was a 10.1% increase in mortality, while in 2018, there was a 15.1% increase in deaths. Differentiations between intensity, dates of the heatwave and how long they lasted can cause variation in the numbers, however, so they should be taken with caution.

Minister of Solidarity and Health Agnès Buzyn said on French radio that the mortality rates were 10% lower than a similar event in 2003, due to precautionary measures taken, BBC reports.

Extreme heat can cause illnesses including heat stroke and heat exhaustion, the CDC states. The agency states remaining in cool places, staying hydrated and limiting exercise in hot weather can help prevent heat-related illnesses.