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Home / International / At least 21 dead in US polar vortex, frostbite amputations feared

At least 21 dead in US polar vortex, frostbite amputations feared

At least 21 dead in US polar vortex, frostbite amputations feared

Tens of millions of Americans braved Arctic-like temperatures on Thursday as low -49°C. That paralyzed the US Midwest and were blamed for at least 21 deaths.

Warmer-than-normal weather was on the way, but that offered little comfort to vulnerable populations such as the homeless and elderly enduring cold that caused frostbite in minutes and made being outside potentially deadly.

Officials across multiple states linked numerous deaths to the frigid air. The death toll rose from a previous 12 after at least nine more people in Chicago were reported to have died from cold-related injuries, according to Stathis Poulakidas, a doctor at the city’s John H Stroger Jr Hospital.

Poulakidas, a trauma specialist, said the hospital had seen about 25 frostbite victims this week. He said the most severe cases risked having fingers and toes amputated.

The marsh around Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts remains frozen January 31 2019, on a day where over 2000 flights were cancelled and delayed due to extreme cold and ice conditions caused by the Polar Vortex over the midwest and northern parts of North America. Photo: AFP
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Among those believed to have died from the cold was University of Iowa student Gerard Belz. The eighteen-year-old was found unresponsive on campus early Wednesday morning just a short walk from his dorm, according to university officials. Police told a local television station they believed the cold played a factor in his death. The wind chill at the time officers found Belz was -46°C, according to the National Weather Service.

Homeless and displaced people were particularly at risk, with Chicago and other cities setting up warming shelters. But many toughed it out in camps or vacant buildings. A 60-year-old woman found dead in an abandoned house in Lorain, Ohio, was believed to have died of hypothermia, Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans said.

“There’s just no way if you’re not near a heat source that you can survive for very long out in weather like this,” Evans told the Chronicle-Telegram newspaper.

Temperatures in the Upper Midwest will rebound well above zero F (minus 18 C) on Friday, with highs making it into the teens and low 20s F. By Saturday, highs will be in the 30s and even low 40s F, while the central Plains will be in the low 60s F, nearly 20 to 25 degrees above normal, the weather service said.

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Source:Reuter

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