12 September 2006
BRUSSELS — The three heatwaves in July led to 739 more deaths than normal, Health Minister Rudy Demotte said on Tuesday.
The Socialist PS minister also said that in total, 940 extra deaths were recorded during the 2006 summer.
Most of the premature deaths involved people aged 65 or older, especially those above the age of 85, news service VRT reported.
The Scientific Public Health Institute has collated almost all of the data for the months of June and July that were passed on by municipalities to the population register.
This data is compared with temperature changes, smog levels and the average number of expected deaths.
In June, an extra 136 deaths than expected were recorded.
During the heatwave of 12-18 June, the death rate was 144 deaths above the expected average, but that did not make a full impact on the month’s average.
The relationship between temperature, smog (ozone) and the death rate was also apparent in the month of July.
Three heatwaves (2-5 July, 17-22 July and 24-28 July) led to 739 more deaths than the expected total.
Some 501 deaths or 68 percent of the total involved people aged 85 years or older.
When all of the municipal information is processed — such as registered deaths following the heatwave in August — the definitive number of extra deaths will probably amount to 940.
Meteorology bureau RMI has said the 2006 heatwave was warmer than the heatwave of 2003 and also lasted longer. Smog levels, however, were lower than three years ago.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news