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US cold wave retreats, leaves more than two-dozen dead

February 03, 2019 05:40 AM

COURTESY HT FEB 3

US cold wave retreats, leaves more than two-dozen dead
HUNDREDS HURT Arctic chill causes frostbite, heart attacks and carbon monoxide poisoning
From page 01 CHICAGO: The deadly cold blast that hit northern US this week has retreated, but not before exacting a human toll: more than two dozen weather-related deaths in eight states and hundreds of injuries, including frostbite, broken bones, heart attacks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

AFP
■ Aerial view of snow covering Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.
In Illinois alone, hospitals reported more than 220 cases of frostbite and hypothermia since Tuesday, when the polar vortex moved in and overnight temperatures plunged to minus 34 degrees Celsius or lower - with wind chills of minus 45 degrees or worse in some areas.

Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis normally sees around 30 frostbite patients in an entire winter. It admitted 18 in the past week, spokeswoman Christine Hill said on Friday.

“I saw more frostbite than I’ve ever seen in my entire career just in the last three days,” said Dr. Andrea Rowland-Fischer, an emergency department physician at Hennepin Healthcare.

Most of those patients, she said, had underlying problems that made it difficult for them to take care of themselves: the developmentally delayed, the mentally ill, the very young and the very old.

They also included people with injuries related to drugs and alcohol - people who passed out or did not realise they were cold or injured.

“It’s heartbreaking when there are people who can’t take care of themselves and get exposed, just because they either escape from the care that they’re being given or because they’re not being supervised.”

Others got frostbite on their way to work after being exposed to the cold for a short time, often on their hands, feet, ears and face. That included people whose cars would not start or who got stuck outside for other reasons, as well as those who just did not think they could get frostbitten so quickly and went outside without gloves or other protective gear.

Several required “maximal treatment”, admission to the hospital’s burn unit for therapies.

On Friday, the deep freeze had mostly abated, with temperatures climbing in Minneapolis and Chicago. In western North Dakota, the temperature in Dickinson climbed above freezing by midmorning.

ONCE-IN-A-CENTURY FLOODS HIT AUSTRALIA

Once-in-a-century flooding in parts of the eastern Australian state of Queensland looks set to worsen as the nation’s weather bureau on Saturday warned of more heavy rain in the area.

Some residents have already been evacuated after days of monsoon rains lashed the region around the coastal city of Townsville in north Queensland, a spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Adam Blazak, a forecaster with the bureau, did not say how many people had been evacuated, but added that some areas had reached “major” flood levels.

Local authorities issued a number of flood warnings on Saturday and told residents to avoid using roads.

 

 
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