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Cold snap reportedly claims over 30 lives in Taiwan

2013/11/29 14:23:20

Taipei, Friday.

Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) Over 30 people have died in Taiwan in the past two days due to the cold weather, according to unofficial statistics.

Daytime temperatures plummeted to 13 or 14 degrees Celsius in Taipei on Thursday and dipped to 12 degrees Thursday night through early Friday as this winter's first cold front hit Taiwan.

Taipei City firefighting officials said 17 elderly people have died suddenly in the city in the past two days.

In neighboring New Taipei, the number of sudden deaths on Thursday alone was seven, according to municipal firefighting sources.

In Taoyuan, another northern county, a citizen fell into a coma allegedly due to the frigid weather and died Thursday shortly after being rushed to hospital.

Three residents in the northern area of Hsinchu were hospitalized with cold-related complaints Thursday and two of them died later in the day.

In the southern city of Tainan, three residents reportedly died suddenly Thursday of cold-related problems.

The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said the death toll is calculated in terms of direct causes of fatality such as diseases or accidents.

According to the agency, frigid weather is not a direct cause of death but rather an environmental factor that could cause an illness to deteriorate.

As emergency room physicians at hospitals would not necessarily mention whether a patient's health was affected by the weather, the HPA said it is not likely to formally include weather-linked deaths in the death toll.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City government's Department of Social Welfare said Friday that it had opened two temporary homeless shelters the previous day as temperatures were dropping.

A total of 64 homeless people took refuge at the two shelters Thursday, the department said, adding that it will collaborate with charities or non-government organizations to providing shelter to more homeless people during the winter season.

According to the Central Weather Bureau, temperatures around Taiwan dropped sharply early Friday, with Danshui, Chiayi and Banquiao recording 9.5, 9.6 and 9.9 degrees, respectively.

Temperatures rose slight during daytime but are expected to drop again at night, CWB officials predicted.

In the mountain areas, meanwhile, the mercury dipped below zero, with the lowest temperature recorded on Mt. Hehuan at negative 8 degrees Celcius early Friday.

(By Huang Li-yuan, Chang Ming-kun and Sofia Wu)