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Hundreds believed dead in heat wave despite efforts to help

SALEM, Ore. — Many dead were found alone, in homes without air conditioning or fans. Some were elderly — one as old as 97. The body of an immigrant farm laborer was found in an Oregon nursery.

As forecasters warned of a record-breaking heatwave in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada last weekend, officials set up cooling centers, distributed water to the homeless, and took other steps. Still, hundreds of people are believed to have died from Friday to Tuesday. An excessive heat warning remained in effect for parts of the interior Northwest and western Canada Thursday. The death toll in Oregon alone reached at least 70, with the number in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland, at 50.

In Canada, British ColumbiColumbia’scoroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 “sudden” and unexpected deaths” between”n Friday and Wednesday afternoon. Typically, she spoke about 165 people would die in the province over five days. She said it was too soon to say with certainty how many deaths were heat-related but that the heat was likely behind most of them.

Washington state authorities have linked more than 20 deaths to the heat, but authorities said that number was likely to rise. According to County Health Officer Jennifer Vines, in Oregon’Oregon’smah County, the average victim’victim’ss 67, and the oldest was 97. In a telephone interview Thursday, Vines said she had been worried about fatalities amid the weather forecasts. Authorities tried to prepare as best they could,

turning nine air-conditioned county libraries into cooling centers. Between Friday and Monday, 7,600 people cooled off amid the stacks of books. Others went to three more cooling centers. Nearly 60 teams sought out homeless people, offering water and electrolytes. “We sco”red the county with outreach efforts, with calls to building managers of low-income housing to be checking on their residents,” Vines,” said.

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