Mon, Jan 25, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Thirty-six deaths blamed on temperature drop

Staff Writer, with CNA

Thirty-six deaths were reported in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan from Saturday to 3pm yesterday, which the authorities said were probably caused by hypothermia or cardiovascular disease.

The temperature fell to 4°C in most parts of northern Taiwan yesterday.

Twenty-one deaths were reported in Taipei, 10 in New Taipei City and five in Taoyuan.

It snowed in the hills and mountainous areas of New Taipei City’s Pinglin (坪林), Shiding (石碇) Wulai (烏來), Sindian (新店) and Sijhih (汐止) districts and at Chinese Culture University in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), which is only about 400m above sea level, from Saturday evening to yesterday morning, as the worst cold front in 44 years hit the nation. Taipei authorities said 13 deaths were suspected to have been caused by low temperatures on Saturday, with eight yesterday, three of who reportedly had no pulse on arrival at hospital emergency rooms.

They said that all of them were found indoors.

New Taipei City Police Department said it found a 56-year-old man, surnamed Chen (陳), dead on the street yesterday morning, while most of the other victims were found in their residences.

Five people — one man and four women — were reported dead in Taoyuan, aged between 46 and 84. Paramedics said people should call 119 for help immediately if they feel any discomfort and should not drive themselves to hospital.

They also suggested that people, especially senior citizens, should keep warm and be prepared.

The number of critical cases in the emergency room at Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) was twice as many as the daily average, with most cases reported as sudden cardiac death, stroke and myocardial infarction. Kao Wei-feng (高偉峰), chief of the emergency services at TMUH, said a US survey showed that sudden cardiac death tends to happen more frequently in low temperatures compared with higher temperatures.

In temperatures of less than 5oC, respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are 10 percent more serious for every 1oC drop in temperature, Kao cited research as saying. Kao also urged people using portable heaters and disposable heat pads to be careful to prevent being burned. People should also maintain proper ventilation indoors to avoid a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, he said.

The Tri-Service General Hospital emergency room did not see any more cardiovascular disease patients than usual yesterday.

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