Thousands Die of Heat in France

With the Internet, you can read today's news around the world. A story that caught our attention is the heat wave in Europe. The headline today in Le Figaro, a Paris newspaper, is: "The Heat Wave: An Uncertain But Already Frightening Toll." Liberation, another Paris paper, is headlined: "3,000 Deaths in the Heat Wave." The following story is based on information in Le Monde, a leading newspaper in Paris.

Comments: The Health Minister of France, Dr. Jean-Francois Mattei, has likened the heat wave now in Europe to that in Chicago in 1995.

In regard to the Chicago tragedy, we recommend an excellent book by Eric Klinenberg called "Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago" that appeared in 2002 and is now available in paperback. 

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Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors,

African Heat Hits France and Kills Thousands

August 14, 2003 -- The intense heat wave that has gripped Europe the past two weeks is believed to have caused about 3,000 deaths in France, according to Le Monde, a leading newspaper in Paris.

There has been a striking increase in deaths in the 23 Paris regional hospitals and General Funeral Services, the largest undertaker in France, reported that from August 6 to 12 it dealt with 37% more deaths than last year.

''We can now state that what's happening to us is a veritable epidemic, with all that implies as to the numbers of victims," Health Minister Dr. Jean-Francois Mattei said. Many of the victims were elderly. Dr. Mattei said the high death rate was a result of an ''exceptional'' heat wave combined with an aging population.

Dr. Mattei has compared the current situation to the heat wave which struck Chicago in the summer of 1995 and, in the course of three days, caused 700 deaths, more than twice the number that died in the Chicago Fire of 1871.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Writers and Editors,

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