21:12 GMT26 July 2021
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    Amidst the heatwave gripping the Canadian province of British Columbia for several consecutive days, raging wildfires have damaged local infrastructure and forced the evacuation of residents.

    Canada’s western-most province of British Columbia has reported a growing death toll as the area continues to grapple with an unprecedented heatwave.

    British Columbia’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, was cited by The Associated Press as saying her office had received reports of at least 486 “sudden and unexpected deaths” between Friday and Wednesday afternoon.

    According to Lapointe, previous data showed that about 165 people would die in the province over a five-day period.

    “We are releasing this information as it is believed likely the extreme weather BC has experienced in the past week is a significant contributing factor to the increased number of deaths,” said the chief coroner in a statement.

    It was likely the heatwave was behind most of the deaths, as from 27 June to 29 June Lytton, a Canadian town in the Coast Mountain Range of British Columbia, broke the nation's all-time high temperature record on three straight days.

    On Sunday the town recorded 116 F (46.6 C), with the record broken the following day, with a high of 118 F (47.8 C) and again on Tuesday with a temperature of 121 F (49.6 C). The previous record-high temperature recorded in Canada was 113 F (45 C) on 5 July 1937, in Midale and Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan.

    Lytton itself previously recorded a temperature of 112 F (44.4 C) in 1941.

    Officials have said months will possibly be required to determine the exact cause of death for hundreds of residents, particularly among seniors in the province.

    “Many of the deaths experienced over the past week were among older individuals living alone in private residences with minimal ventilation,” said Lapointe.

    The heat has also triggered devastating wildfires. At least two people are believed to have died in a blaze that destroyed the village of Lytton on Wednesday.

    A wildfire burns outside of the town of Lytton, where it raged through and forced everyone to evacuate, in British Columbia, Canada, July 1, 2021.
    © REUTERS / Jennifer Gauthier
    A wildfire burns outside of the town of Lytton, where it raged through and forced everyone to evacuate, in British Columbia, Canada, July 1, 2021.

    On 2 July 136 active wildfires were reported in British Columbia, including nine which were “of concern”, according to officials.

    Related:

    Vancouver Police Report Rise in Sudden Deaths Due to Abnormal Heat Wave
    Village in Canada Destroyed in Wildfires Caused By Record Heat, Authorities Say
    Trudeau to Convene Incident Response Group After BC Village Destroyed by Wildfire
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    heatwave, British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada, Canada
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