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At least 233 dead in British Columbia amid historic heat wave

More than 230 people have died since Friday as a result of the historic heat wave in British Columbia, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement Tuesday.

Why it matters: The heatwave in the Pacific Northwest has shattered records and alarmed scientists. In Lytton, British Columbia the temperature soared to 121°F on Tuesday, conditions which, in North America, are usually reserved for the desert Southwest.

The big picture: The record-breaking temperatures scorching the Pacific Northwest have translated to a markedly higher death rate than usual in British Columbia.

  • "Since the onset of the heat wave late last week, the BC Coroners Service has experienced a significant increase in deaths reported where it is suspected that extreme heat has been contributory. The Coroners Service would normally receive approximately 130 reports of death over a four-day period," Lapointe noted.
  • But between Friday and Monday afternoon "at least 233 deaths were reported," she added.

What to watch: The number is expected to increase as more reports are filed and data is updated.

Of note: John Horgan, the premier of British Columbia, said at a press conference Tuesday that the heat wave underscored the existential threat posed by global warming, per the New York Times.

  • “The big lesson coming out of the past number of days is that the climate crisis is not a fiction,” Horgan said. “It is absolutely real.”

Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: Climate studies have shown that extreme heat events such as this one are becoming more severe and frequent due to human-induced climate change, but the magnitude and longevity of this weather pattern has shocked many climate researchers. To put the heat into context, the all-time high temperature record in Las Vegas, Nevada stands at 117 degrees. British Columbia shattered that this week.

Go deeper: Pacific Northwest heat wave, Canada temperature record shock experts

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