Five people found dead as heat wave drags on

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Five people found dead as heat wave drags on

A bystander found and reported an unconscious person surnamed Lee, 56, near some rice paddies in Hwasun County, South Jeolla, at around 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, according to local firefighters.

Lee was transported by ambulance to the closest hospital but was later announced dead. When Lee was found at the scene, his body temperature was about 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Police suspect Lee passed away from a combination of poor health, caused by cancer and a subsequent operation her underwent several years ago, and the fact that he ventured outside in the scorching heat.

As the heat wave continues, five people have already passed away from what is suspected to be heat exhaustion. The first death occurred in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang, last month. Recurrently, three additional deaths took place in Uiseong County of North Gyeongsang, Buk District in Gwangju and around the Gyeongsang area.

According to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) surveillance system, there were 539 patients nationwide who suffered from heat exhaustion between May 23 and July 24, excluding deaths. There were up to 157 patients per week this month, a number that is growing.

The CDC advises citizens to refrain from outdoor activities during afternoons when the heat wave is the strongest and to stay hydrated.

BY KIM HO [lee.soowhan@joongang.co.kr]

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