Dozens of people die due to cold weather in Taiwan

Extreme cold weather kills at least 85 people in Taiwan

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Typhoon Soudelor battered Taiwan with fierce winds and rain leaving four people dead and a trail of debris in its wake in August, 2015.

An unusually cold weather front has been blamed for killing 85 mostly elderly people in Taiwan's greater Taipei area.

The cold wave abruptly pushed temperatures to a 16-year record low of 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in the subtropical capital where most homes lack central heating, causing heart trouble and shortness of breath for many of the victims, a city official said.

"In our experience, it's not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that's too sudden for people's circulatory systems," said a city spokesman who identified himself only by his surname, Chang.

Strokes and hypothermia were among the causes of death in New Taipei City, officials there said.

Temperatures in Taipei average 16 degrees C (60 degrees F) in January, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau. Because of the relatively mild norms, most households in Taiwan lack central heating, another suspected factor in the recent deaths.

New Taipei City said it was providing shelter for 91 homeless people endangered by the cold.

The cold front also left 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) of snow on Taipei's highest peak Saturday and stranded vehicles as people headed into the mountains to see the snow.

The same polar front closed schools Monday in Hong Kong, where 130 people had been trapped at day earlier on a peak in the city that also seldom gets such cold weather. Hong Kong temperatures reached 3.1 degrees Sunday.

Temperatures in Taipei are forecast to reach 17 degrees Tuesday.

TRTWorld, AP