Paris, September 9 (RHC)-- France has calculated the death toll from the record heatwave which hit Europe this summer, with its health minister reporting that the abnormal weather caused at least 1,500 deaths in the country. There were “18 days of extreme heat” in France this year and not everyone managed to live through them, Agnes Buzyn said in a radio interview.
The heat exceeded 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in June and July and saw temperature records rewritten in more than 50 cities across the country. In the southern commune of Gallargues-le-Montueux, thermometers measured a French national record of 46 Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit).
“We’ve observed 1,500 additional deaths… in those months,” the minister said, adding that only around a half of the victims were elderly people, aged over 75, the rest being younger citizens.
Overall, the heat negatively affected the health of almost 20 million people in the country, according to Buzyn.
France Info radio station provided a more precise death toll of 1,435 people. More than 560 of them died during the first heatwave in late June/early July, with another 858 succumbing to the extreme weather in the final days of July.
The numbers might seem staggering, but they pale in comparison to previous heatwaves which hit France in summer 2003 and caused 15,000 additional deaths.