14 die of heat-related illnesses

Fourteen people have died of heat-related causes across the country in the past two months amid the prolonged heat wave, the government said Thursday.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said 14 have died of heatstroke, dehydration and other related factors, with 11 of the fatalities reported since July 25 when nationwide heat warnings were first issued.

Ten of the deceased were aged over 60, and two were in their 40s and another two in their 50s.

The number of heat-stricken patients has increased more than two-fold from 2011 to 800 this year, the ministry said. The scorching heat has swept the nation with the mercury often rising over 35 degrees Celsius in the daytime and nighttime highs staying above 25 degree Celsius.

The temperature dropped below 35 degrees Celsius on Wednesday for the first time since late July but Seoul still marked a record-high 13-day streak of “tropical nights” Wednesday, with nighttime temperatures remaining above 25 degrees Celsius.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said the number of patients with heat-related problems in the capital has increased more than three times from a year earlier.

A total of 89 people have been taken to hospital after showing symptoms of heatstroke since June, while 27 had medical treatment for the same reason between July and early September last year.

The number of such patients was 69 in the first eight days of this month. The city had 21 heatstroke patients on Sunday when the daytime temperature reached 36 degrees Celsius. Another 16 were then taken to a hospital a day later after showing similar symptoms.

The Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters said a large number of emergency calls received were related to heatstroke.

“We found that many of the patients were senior citizens, who left their houses in the evening to cool off but fainted as they could not bear the heat,” an official said.

“The patients said they suffered from dizziness and nausea before they fainted and we advise those with such symptoms to avoid direct sunlight and drink lots of water,” he said.

The Korea Meteorological Administration forecasts that the temperature will drop this weekend with chances of rain across the country. <The Korea Times/Yi Whan-woo>


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