Record 11,672 people suffer heatstroke in Japan

Commuters cross the street under the blazing sun in front of JR Tokyo Station on Tuesday morning.

A total of 11,672 people were taken to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke in the nation from July 27 to Sunday, the biggest weekly total since comparable records began in 2008, and 25 of them died, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. The report shows preliminary figures.

There have been 55 deaths since April 27, when this year's observations began. The number of people ferried to hospitals during the week exceeded that of the previous record week, July 8-14, 2013, which saw 11,427 people hospitalised.

Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive day on which temperatures hit or topped 35 C in central Tokyo, the longest such period on record.

By prefecture, Tokyo recorded the highest number of heatstroke patients with 1,095, followed by 989 in Aichi Prefecture and 805 in Saitama Prefecture.

The number of heatstroke sufferers taken to hospitals was twice as high as that of the equivalent week last year, or 5,712, and people aged 65 or older accounted for 48.7 per cent of the total. Of the deaths, three people died in Aichi Prefecture, and two each in Saitama, Wakayama and Yamaguchi prefectures.

On Saturday, 223 observation points nationwide noted an extremely hot day on which the mercury rose to 35 C or higher, marking this year's largest number, and 2,571 people were ferried to hospitals.

Since April 27, at least 35,428 people have been taken to hospitals by ambulance, and 49.1 per cent of them, or 17,401 people, were elderly.

In Tokyo, with extremely hot days continuing, many elderly have died at home due to heatstroke, reportedly not using air conditioners in areas including Nerima Ward on Sunday night.

As tropical nights with temperatures staying above 25 C continue, heatstroke can take place while people are asleep.

The Tokyo Fire Department is calling for the public to stay cool indoors by effectively using air conditioners and other devices.

"The Fire and Disaster Management Agency prepared 800,000 copies of a leaflet that introduces heatstroke preventive measures and others, and distributed them to the nation's fire department headquarters," Internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The leaflet introduces ways to cope with heatstroke according to symptom.

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