Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:45:00 GMT | By Reuters

Prolonged heatwave takes Britain by surprise

Waterloo station had to close four platforms due to buckled rails and scientists estimate that 650 persons, mainly those above 75, may have died due to heat wave

Prolonged heatwave takes Britain by surprise (© Reuters)

London: Britain's first prolonged heatwave in seven years has taken the country by surprise, with rails buckling, shops selling out of electric fans, and scientists estimating the surge in temperature could have caused hundreds of premature deaths.

After a washout summer in 2012 and the coldest spring for over 50 years, temperatures have soared across the country due to a northward shift in the high-altitude jetstream, prompting several authorities to issue public warnings over the heat.

Figures released by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on Thursday estimated about 650 people may have died prematurely due to the heat over the past nine days, producing data based on deaths during previous heatwaves.

"The excess is likely to have been overwhelmingly among the elderly, especially those over 75, some of which may have been among people who would have died just a few weeks later if there had been no heatwave," Ben Armstrong, an epidemiological statistician, told Reuters.

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