July 18th, 2024

B.C. Coroners Service reports 36 outdoor deaths to start year, 5 on cold Jan. 12

By The Canadian Press on January 18, 2024.

British Columbia's Coroners Service is reporting the outdoor deaths of 36 people during the early days of January when the province was in the grip of a record-breaking cold snap. A person looks out to a partially frozen False Creek during a snowstorm in Vancouver Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s Coroners Service is reporting the outdoor deaths of 36 people during the early days of January when the province was in the grip of a record-breaking cold snap.

Coroners Service data for the days from Jan. 1 to 16 show the highest number of people dying on Jan. 12, a day when numerous low temperature records were broken across B.C.

The service says five people died on Jan. 12, where temperatures at Puntzi Mountain, west of Williams Lake, neared -50 C, while Victoria broke a 61-year-old record with a temperature of -10.7 C.

But the death rate isn’t much different from last year, when the service says 34 people died in the same period when the temperature in Metro Vancouver on Jan. 12 was 10 C.

The coroners service says this year’s outdoor deaths, which are still under investigation, include those that occur in public spaces, on streets or sidewalks, in parking lots, parks, trails and campgrounds.

Late last year, the coroners service reported more than 600 people experiencing homelessness in B.C. died in 2021 and 2022, a sharp increase in the annual average of 183 deaths.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024.

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