Mexican health officials have confirmed that there have been a minimum of 112 deaths caused by heat-related incidents this year, acknowledging the severity of a recent heat wave that the president had previously dismissed as exaggerated by sensationalist journalists.
The released report, which was made public on Wednesday evening, reveals a significant surge in fatalities linked to heat in the past two weeks. The number of heat-related deaths recorded this year is nearly three times higher than the figures reported in 2022.
Normally, the Health Department issues a weekly report on heat-related fatalities. However, in June, during the peak of the heat wave, a report was skipped for reasons that remain unclear.
During the week of June 18-24, heat-related deaths in Mexico reached an unprecedented peak, with 69 fatalities reported nationwide in just one week. This surge in deaths is attributed to scorching temperatures exceeding 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in certain regions of the country in recent weeks.
The preceding week of June 11-17 was also marked by an unusually high number of deaths, with 31 cases recorded throughout Mexico.
Among the states in Mexico, Nuevo Leon, situated along the northern border and home to the industrial hub of Monterrey, has witnessed the highest number of deaths from heatstroke and dehydration this year.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had previously dismissed reports of heat-related deaths, alleging that they were false and part of a media campaign against his administration. At the time of his remarks, the death figures he cited were already outdated.
The significant increase in heat-related fatalities can be attributed, at least in part, to not only the extreme temperatures but also the delayed arrival of the seasonal rains that typically bring relief and cooler conditions to Mexico in mid-June.
The Health Department has not yet provided a response to the inquiry regarding the delayed reporting of the fatalities.
Furthermore, the reasoning behind the president’s perception of the deaths as a political matter remains unclear. It is possible that this perception arose due to media reports suggesting that certain fatalities were a result of electricity shutoffs in the homes of some victims.
It is worth noting that President López Obrador holds a firm stance in support of the state-owned power utility.