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Blistering heat wave claims 54 lives in Quebec

Posted: 6:29 PM, Jul 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-06 22:29:18Z

A blistering heat swept through parts of Canada this week, killing 54 people in the province of Quebec, according to health officials.

Twenty-eight of the deaths were in Montreal, said Marie-Claude Lacasse with the Ministry of Health. Many of the victims were older than 50, male, living alone and had no air conditioning, said Dr. David Kaiser of Montreal's Regional Public Health Department.

CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said the region has seen record high temperatures and high humidity since Sunday. Temperatures were in the mid-90s for Montreal on Sunday and Monday, about 20 degrees higher than the normal temperatures this time of year.

Despite cooler weather Friday, Stefan Overhoff, chief operating officer of Urgences-sante ambulance service, said people who experienced the week's intense heat could still be susceptible to health problems, according to CNN news partner  CTV .

People with chronic illness are particularly at risk, said Nicola Dulisse, head of Urgences-sante.

These people already have underlying medical conditions such as cardiac conditions and diabetes, Dulisse told CTV. "Things that have already weakened (their) systems. So now we're adding another blow to that, and the blow is recurrent over multiple days."

"The other issue is folks that are alone," Dulisse added. "Obviously when we get there and the person may have passed, they're very rarely already with family. So the biggest factor is: Are you with and are you surrounded by people that can support each other?"

Dulisse encouraged family, friends and neighbors to do "regular check-ins" on people who are older or sick.

Earlier this week, health officials began door-to-door checks on vulnerable people. Montreal health officials also opened 19 cooling stations in public health and social services buildings across the city and asked people to call public transport services to get a ride to one of the air-conditioned centers.

Environment Canada lifted heat warnings Friday, despite expectations that temperatures will once again rise early next week.

"The higher temperatures and humid Sunday and Monday will mostly affect southern Quebec," said Serge Mainville of Environment Canada, according to CNN news partner  CBC .

Meanwhile, a  dangerous heat wave  is expected to grip California and parts of the southwest Friday and into the weekend, threatening millions of people and likely fueling existing wildfires in the United States.