Death toll in Canadian heat wave hits 54

People cool down in a public pool in Montreal Thursday

People cool down in a public pool in Montreal Thursday

A young boy plays at a water fountain in 2010, when a high heat and humidity warning like the one in place now was in effect for several regions in Canada.

Deaths linked to a heat wave in Canada's Quebec province has almost doubled to 33 from the last count, health officials said on Thursday, as extreme weather conditions that have gripped central and eastern Canada reached their peak.

The victims who succumbed to the heat were between the ages of 50 and 85 and did not have air conditioning in their residences and lived alone in apartments, officials said.

Environment Canada forecast a maximum of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday with a heat index (what the temperature feels like to the human body) of up to 45 Celsius.

People cool down in a public pool in Montreal, Thursday.

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"It's not surprising", he said. "The elderly, people with chronic diseases and people with mental health problems are more at risk". There also micro heat islands throughout the city, particularly in some of the poorer areas, he added.

Public health officials said on Friday that coroner investigations will be completed to confirm that the reported fatalities are all heat related.

A heat wave in Quebec has killed 33 people in the past week as high summer temperatures scorched eastern Canada.

Large parts of Ontario have experienced similarly sweltering conditions this week, though unlike Quebec no deaths have been reported there.

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