TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese officials and media reports are blaming a cold spell for the deaths of more than 150 people, most of them elderly and sick, over the past several days.
Temperatures fell as low as 6.7 degrees Celsius on Thursday evening along the coast north of the capital, Taipei.
Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper and United Daily News said the deaths of 154 people since then were likely related to the cold. Reports say below-normal temperatures around much of the island from Thursday night through Sunday may have triggered deadly heart attacks and strokes as well as the deaths of elderly people with the flu.
Temperatures in Taipei average 16 degrees Celsius in January, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau. Because of the relatively mild norms, most households in Taiwan lack central heating, another suspected factor in the recent deaths.
Emergency calls in Taipei rose as temperatures fell to their lowest point, said Wang Yao-chen, emergency relief chief with the city of Taipei. The city’s caseload went up more than 40 on Friday and 10 people died, Wang said. /AP