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Harsh winter led to 4,000 extra deaths

March 24, 2013 at 10:25 AM

LONDON, March 24 (UPI) -- An unusually cold and persistent winter in Britain may have caused more than 4,000 extra deaths, the Office of National Statistics said.

Michelle Mitchell, the director general of Age UK, a charity for the elderly, said approximately 26,000 people die needlessly each winter.

"Colder, harsher winters tend to lead to an increase in life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks and strokes which in turn leads to a high rate of excess winter deaths," she said. "For every one degree drop in average temperature, there are around 8,000 extra deaths."

The Office of National Statistics showed there were 43,700 deaths registered in England and Wales in February, an increase of 2,891 compared to the average for the same month over the past five years. In the first week of March, there were an extra 1,265 deaths.

Roads, schools and airports were closed across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England Friday and Saturday. Thousands of customers in Belfast and Scotland were without power as the storm dumped about a foot of snow throughout the region, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

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