The fierce summer heatwave has taken its toll in Italy, with 4,175 more deaths among the over-65s this year during the month 16 July - 15 August than there were during the same period in 2002, a rise of 14 per cent. The estimate is based on statistics compiled by the health ministry, which show a strong correlation between mortality and peaks in temperature. The greatest increase in deaths among the elderly was registered in Turin, where mortality among the over-75s more than doubled, rising 108 per cent. In Rome the figure was 51.5 per cent. Temperatures reached well over 40C in many parts of Italy during July and August, and similar conditions in France led to an estimated 11,000 deaths over the summer as the health system struggled to cope. Italy's health ministry initially refused to release figures about deaths among the elderly, saying it was too difficult to establish whether the heat was the cause.
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