Nearly 1,500 more people than average died in France this summer because of the heatwaves, the country’s Health Minister announced on Sunday.
A total of 1,435 people passed away during the heatwaves including 567 during the first wave in late June to early July and 868 during the second wave in late July, Agnès Buzyn told France Info and France Inter radio stations.
She stressed that the figure was one-tenth of the macabre tally recorded in 2003 when a heatwave resulted in the death of some 15,000 people in the country.
“The 2003 heatwave lasted 20 days. We had 18 days in two waves and we managed to cut mortality by a factor of 10 thanks to preventative measures,” she said.
Half of the people killed this summer were elderly people over the age of 75, while 10 people died at work, she explained, adding that they worked in building, catering and farming.
She said the French society must strengthen efforts to reorganise itself to adapt to climate change “because these hot weather events will be renewed and probably intensify in the coming years.”
The heatwaves that washed over Europe in July saw absolute heat records toppled in several countries including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
In France, a new record was set on June 28 in Vérargues, in the southeast of the country, with 46.0°C, according to the national Météo France weather agency.