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Japan Heat Wave Officially Declared a Natural Disaster With 65 Dead and More Than 22,000 Hospitalized

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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike splashes water on the ground to cool down the area on July 23, 2018. Japan declared a natural disaster after a heatwave sweeping the country killed 80 people in July. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

By Daniel Moritz-Rabson, Newsweek

Japan’s weather agency declared a natural disaster as a heat wave continued to roil the country, sending more than 22,600 people to the hospital and leaving at least 65 dead in one week.

Government officials said heatstroke has been the leading cause of the 65 deaths that occurred in the week to Sunday. Since the beginning of the month, 80 people have died and more than 35,000 have been admitted to the hospital,The Guardian reported.

[post_ads]“We are observing unprecedented levels of heat in some areas," Motoaki Takekawa, a weather agency spoksman, told the BBC. Takekawa also called the heatwave “a threat to life” and added that “we recognize it as a natural disaster.”

On Monday, the central city of Kumagaya recorded a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the country’s heat record, while Tokyo reached 104 degrees for the first time ever.

AccuWeather President and Founder Joel N. Myers warned that the death toll "will climb into the thousands before the heat wave ends."

The government has advised people to drink water, avoid direct sunlight and use air conditioning. The heat wave could particularly affect the elderly, who are less able to adapt to temperature changes and may take medications that inhibit the body’s thermoregulation capacity. Japan has over 2 million people aged 90 and above.

Authorities are also concerned about the safety of children.
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BBC reported that less than half of Japan’s public schools have air conditioning. With the government cautioning that temperatures of 95 degrees or more could continue through early August, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said officials were considering extending summer vacation for schools.

 “As a record heatwave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren,” Suga said.

The crippling heatwave has impacted some of the same areas devastated by floods and landslides that killed at least 210 people earlier this month.

The current heat wave has sparked concerns about a weather conditions affecting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will take place in the summer. News outlet Agence France-Presse reported that Japanese officials are treating the heat seriously. “I wouldn’t call the heat a form of terrorism as such. But it’s just as important because the purpose is also to protect people’s lives,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said. She also vowed to pursue “creative efforts to make sure the Games stay cool, while the competition is hot.”

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World - U.S. Daily News: Japan Heat Wave Officially Declared a Natural Disaster With 65 Dead and More Than 22,000 Hospitalized
Japan Heat Wave Officially Declared a Natural Disaster With 65 Dead and More Than 22,000 Hospitalized
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