Heatwave kills 50 in Paris region, hospital official says
PARIS (AFP) Aug 11, 2003
At least 50 people have died in the last four days from the heatwave in the French capital, a top Parisian hospital official said on Sunday, while government officials denied the claim.

"In the last four days there have been practically 50 deaths due to the heat," the president of the French emergency doctors' association, Patrick Pelloux, said in a television interview.

"The weakest are dropping like flies," Pelloux told commercial TV station TF1, accusing the authorities of standing idly by.

"They dare to say that these deaths are natural. I absolutely do not agree with that."

But at the national health service (DGS), a spokesperson said that no accurate statistics existed on recent deaths due to the oppressive heat, with most Europeans drenched in sweat from the abnormally high temperatures for the past two weeks.

"High temperatures are clearly associated with a rise in deaths," they said, adding that accurate statistics would take some time to put together.

Pelloux accused the health service of not taking the situation seriously.

"No statistics are being gathered, there's no general information, nothing. Meanwhile the old are dying of heat," said Pelloux.