Mayor Asks For Probe On Heat Deaths

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Two more deaths have been blamed on the stiflingly hot weather, bringing New York City’s total from the latest heat wave to at least 22.

Both people — an 80-year-old woman and a 56-year-old man — died in Queens, a spokeswoman for the chief medical examiner’s office, Ellen Borakove, said. While declining to name specifically where each person lived, she said the office hasn’t linked the deaths to the blackout that left an estimated 100,000 people in northwest Queens without electricity.

Mayor Bloomberg said he has asked the city’s chief medical examiner and health department commissioner to investigate the deaths to determine any patterns that could be used to help prevent future heat-related deaths.

Ms. Borakove declined to elaborate on the mayor’s call for the interagency report, adding that his words speak for themselves.

“All I can say is, we’ll be reviewing all the cases starting tomorrow,” she said.

Deaths from heat waves around the globe have been far worse.

“It is not a very large number,” Mr. Bloomberg, who declared the heat wave a citywide emergency last week, said, adding that every death was nevertheless tragic.

In Chicago in the summer of 1995, so many people died — conservative estimates put the number beyond 450 — that the city’s morgue ran out of room for the bodies. In France in 2003, more than 15,000, most of them elderly, died from the heat.

The mayor said his staff has scrutinized deaths from European heat waves in an effort to minimize the number of people who die during similar weather in the city.

“I think that we’ve learned some lessons,” Mr. Bloomberg said. These have included opening cooling centers, extending hours of public pools, and warning vulnerable New Yorkers about the deadly dangers of heat.

The New York Sun

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