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Why some heatwaves prove deadlier than others?

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LONDON: Europe’s record-breaking heatwave last month saw England and Wales register nearly 1,700 extra deaths in just one week, early data shows, while Portugal and Spain counted another 1,700.

The figures, which will likely change as records are updated, give the first indication of heat-related deaths when temperatures from London to Madrid hit nearly 40 degrees Celsius or higher.

The data for England and Wales released on Tuesday by Britain’s Office for National Statistics counts registered

deaths during July 16-22 against what would be expected over the same period, based on 5-year mortality averages.

The toll for the Iberian Peninsula from the World Health Organization is also provisional.

But the figures from July came nowhere near the 70,000 heat-related deaths during a European heatwave in 2003.

Here are some of the factors that make some heatwaves deadlier than others. When and where a heatwave hits matters.

The 2003 heatwave hit in the first two weeks of August, closing businesses, wiping out crops and drying up rivers.

France’s Paris region felt the effects most. Heatwaves are more intense in cities as concrete and asphalt absorb and retain heat.

The peak coincided with the traditional holiday period, when many children were out of school and families on holiday, in

some cases leaving elderly relatives behind. — Reuters

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