The extreme heat already left almost 2,200 dead in Spain only in the month of July



A woman with a fan in the Plaza de España in Seville during one of the heat waves that have shaken the country in 2022. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo
A woman with a fan in the Plaza de España in Seville during one of the heat waves that have shaken the country in 2022. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

The suffocating heat that Spain suffered in July has caused the death of at least 2,176 people. Never before have high temperatures left such a harsh trail of deaths in a single month. The daily mortality monitoring system (known as MoMo) has determined that this is the number of deaths – up to day 30 – that can be attributed to the high and unusually high temperatures. The data for the 31st is yet to be known. Thus, it is foreseeable, according to the sources consulted, that the number of deaths caused by the heat exceeds 2,200.

Spain registered an excess mortality of 9,504 people in July, according to MoMo data. 23% of deaths are linked to the effects of high temperatures. Either directly -a heat stroke- or indirectly -diseases that have been aggravated by the effect of the increase in degrees in the thermometers-.

Since there are records -MoMo was launched in 2015- such a high number of deaths had never been reached in a month of July. In July 2021, the Carlos III Health Institute (on which the daily mortality monitoring system depends) registered 568 deaths from causes directly attributable to temperatures. In July 2020, the year of the pandemic, the number was similar: 581 deaths from heat. That is, four times less than those accounted for this month that has just ended.

The hardest days of the past month As regards the number of deaths, they were July 17 (169 dead), July 18 (183) and July 19 (184).

To reach a figure that is close to the number of deaths in July 2022, you have to go back seven years. It was in July 2015 -when a heat wave brought thermometers to 45 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country- when the highest number known to date of deaths due to temperatures was recorded. So the number of deaths attributed to this cause was 1,797.

Most of the deaths attributed to the July heat have affected older people. 90% of the deceased were over 70 years old. Thus, of the 2,176 deceased, 1,357 were over 85 years old, and 484 were over 74 years of age. The heat, according to the same statistics, has killed more women than men. About 1,334 women for about 842 men.

As for the geographical areas, Madrid is the community that registered the most deaths from heat in July, with 470 deaths, followed by Andalusia (257) and Catalonia and Castilla-La Mancha (both with 177), always according to the data provided by MoMo .

Far from appeasing, weather forecasts speak of a third heat wave that will hit the country imminently. According to the forecasts of the Spanish Meteorological Agency (Aemet), it will begin on Thursday, August 4 and will have the hardest episodes on days 6 and 7. Those will also be the hottest days of 2022.

The historical average temperature in Spain in the months of August is 23.9 degrees. In the heat wave that arrives, the average will rise to 24.3 degrees.

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