At least 85 people were killed in Taiwan since Saturday as temperatures fell to the lowest levels over the weekend.
Majority of the deaths were reported in northern regions such as Taipei and Taoyuan. Another 16 were confirmed dead in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Many of those who died were elderly people, caught off guard by abnormally cold weather. The maximum number of deaths was due to hypothermia and cardiovascular disease caused by sudden drop in temperature.
Record-low temperatures and abundant moisture across Taiwan have caused snowfall in urban Taipei and mountainous parts of the country. Many victims reported to have heart trouble as well as shortness of breath. Elderly people are at risk of heart and breathing problems in such cold spells.
The heart works harder to keep our body warm during cold weather, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. These changes increase the risk of developing clots that may lead to cardiac arrest and cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Moreover, low temperature makes it harder to breathe and existing chest problems become worse.
“In our experience, it’s not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that’s too sudden for people’s circulatory systems,” said a city official while talking to a local media outlet.
Earlier on Sunday, the temperature in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei fell to a 16-year low of 4 degrees Celsius. The growing concern for the government is that many homes in Taiwan lack central heating. Authorities have warned people, especially senior citizens, to keep warm and stay indoor to avoid the harsh weather.
Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Japan are also facing freezing temperatures that have caused massive transport blockades and power failures. Jeju, a popular resort island in South Korea, witnessed its biggest snowfall in three decades. Hundreds of domestic and internationals flights have been cancelled as the record snowfall caused its airport to shut down. IMAGE/AFP