According to authorities, 107 people died in Oregon’s record-breaking heatwave on Tuesday.
Multnomah County has reported 67 deaths so far, accounting for more than half of the state’s heat-related deaths, prompting the county to declare it a “mass casualty incident.”
According to Multnomah County health authorities, the probable cause of all the deaths is hyperthermia, which is defined as a body temperature that is much higher than usual. So far, 40 deaths have been legally ruled as hyperthermia deaths, with the other cases awaiting final determination.
The victims in the county varied in age from 44 to 97.
According to Oregon Live, one of the fatalities was Guatemalan immigrant Sebastian Francisco Perez, 38, who arrived in the United States on May 5 to work on a farm in rural St. Paul. He died on June 26 while working in the severe heat at a tree plantation. On Saturday, three vigils were conducted in his honor in St. Paul, according to the outlet.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the county opened three 24-hour cooling centres, nine cooling spaces, contacted tens of thousands of seniors, people with disabilities, and pregnant women directly, and deployed more than 60 outreach teams to focus on people without housing or shelter during the heatwave in response to the natural disaster.
The heat claimed the lives of nine people in Washington County, eleven in Clackamas County, thirteen in Marion County, two in Deschutes County, two in Linn County, and one each in Columbia, Pole, and Umatilla counties.
During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Gov. Kate Brown termed the death toll from the heatwave “totally unacceptable” and stated that despite preparedness efforts across the state, “we still lost too many lives.”