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Authorities say nearly 500 people have died in Canada’s westernmost province across five days, as record-breaking temperatures raise serious concerns for vulnerable groups, including the elderly. British Columbia’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said on Wednesday afternoon that the BC Coroners Service received at least 486 reports of deaths between Friday and Wednesday afternoon — a total she said was preliminary and expected to increase. The fatalities represent a 195 percent increase from the approximately 165 deaths that would normally occur in the province across a five-day period, Lapointe said. Temperatures have soared in BC and other Canadian provinces and territories as a so-called “heat dome” — a weather system that traps in hot air — descended on the country’s west coast, as well as in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Experts have also said climate change contributed to the record-shattering heat. Lytton, a town in central BC, broke Canadian high-temperature records three times this week, hitting 49.6C (121.28F) on Tuesday. “The hot weather will extend all the way to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut,” Gillham said in a post on The Weather Network website.

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