Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heat wave in Brazil kills 32 elderly persons

Thirty-two elderly people died in a southeastern Brazilian city this week because of a heat wave that has pushed temperatures to unseasonably high levels, a health official said Wednesday.  All of the fatalities in the coastal city of Santos near Sao Paulo involved people between 60 and 90 years old with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, according to the health ministry in Santos.The first deaths were registered Monday, when the temperature in Santos reached 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit). Temperatures were well above 30 degrees (86 F) in the following days.Luiz Fernando Gomes da Silva, Santos' health ministry's coordinator for the elderly, is urging people to drink a lot of liquids amid the heat of the South American summer. 

Temperatures are also hitting record levels in Rio de Janeiro, where the city's five-day Carnival bash begins Friday.  The heat wave follows more than a month of torrential rains across southeastern Brazil that killed more than 70 people - most victims of mudslides that swept away ramshackle homes built on hillsides.

Read more here:  Washington Post,

Editor's note:  In natural disasters such as this one, the elderly generally comprise 75-90% of all deaths.  Yet most disaster management programs, including those in the USA, don't explicitly address the circumstances that generate this statistic.

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