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Britain’s Coldest Spring Since 1963 Claims 5,000 Lives

Freezing Britain’s unusually harsh winter could have cost thousands of pensioners their lives. This month is on track to be the coldest March for 50 years – and as the bitter Arctic conditions caused blackouts and traffic chaos yesterday, experts warned of an ‘horrendous’ death toll among the elderly.

About 2,000 extra deaths were registered in just the first two weeks of March compared with the average for the same period over the past five years. 

Whiteout: Blizzards caused huge snow drifts leaving these cars nearly completely covered in Hadfield, Derbyshire

Whiteout: Blizzards caused huge snow drifts leaving these cars nearly completely covered in Hadfield, Derbyshire

 

Blizzards: The Peak District was one of the worst affected areas as blizzards swept the UK overnight

Blizzards: The Peak District was one of the worst affected areas as blizzards swept the UK overnight

And for February, 3,057 extra deaths were registered in England and Wales compared with the five-year average for the month.

Campaigners at Age UK, which says 26,000 people die needlessly in winter every year, said the current weather could prove deadly for thousands more.

Director general Michelle Mitchell said: ‘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.

‘For every one degree drop in average temperature, there are around 8,000 extra deaths.’

The Office for National Statistics said the extra death rate ‘could be to do with the prolonged period of cold weather we’ve been experiencing.’ But it cautioned that it was too early to make an absolute link. The March figures are still provisional.

Malcolm Booth, chief executive of the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, said that last month almost 700 of his members had died, compared with 250 last year.

‘If our membership is a representative sample that was replicated across the general population, then we could be looking at a horrendous number when all the figures are in,’ he said.

Snow the Welsh town of Llangollen which was cut off by road except for four wheel drive vehicles

Snow the Welsh town of Llangollen which was cut off by road except for four wheel drive vehicles

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