TOKYO, Sept 14, 2010 (AFP) - At least 170 people have died from heatstroke and more than 54,000 have been rushed to hospital in Japan's hottest summer on record, the government said Tuesday.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 54,386 people, nearly half of them over 65, were taken to hospital with heatstroke between May 31 and September 12 -- 1,824 of them in critical condition.
The agency said 170 people were confirmed dead shortly after arriving at hospital, and more were believed to have died later.
Japan has experienced its hottest summer since 1898, when records began, according to the meteorological agency.
In August, the mercury often soared above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in many areas of the country.
The average temperature nationwide between June and August was 1.64 degrees C hotter than normal for the period, forecasters have said. The previous record margin, set in 1994, was 1.36 degrees C.