Deadliest week in the Netherlands since WWII
According to figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS), week nine, the last week of February 2018 and the start of March, has been the deadliest since the end of the Second World War, with 3887 people passing away.
Freezing cold temperatures and flu in the Netherlands
The freezing cold temperatures in the Netherlands and the long-running flu epidemic in the country are to blame for the increase in the number of deaths. Of the 3887 people who passed away, over half were more than 80 years old.
Even when the North Sea Flood hit the Netherlands in 1953, fewer casualties were recorded than in week nine, February 26 to March 4, this year. The North Sea Flood of 1953 took the lives of 3.200 people.
The last time that the number of deaths in one week was so high was in January 1945, during the Dutch famine, when around 4.500 people died per week. Figures of the deceased for the weeks in January 1945 are not exact, as back then, the number of deaths was recorded monthly instead of weekly.
Last year, on average, 2.800 people died per week. In week nine of that year, the number of deaths rose by more than 1.000.
Breaking death records
Life expectancy has increased in the past years. For a newborn baby boy, the average life expectancy is more than 80 years old and for a newborn baby girl, this is 85 years old. But with age, the body becomes more vulnerable.
Head demographer from CBS, Jan Latten, believes that the death record may be broken more than once in the coming years, as the Netherlands is home to many more elderly people than it was 70 years ago.
CBS estimates that in 2050, there will be around two million elderly people over the age of 80 living in the Netherlands. Should such a winter as the one we've just experienced occur, the number of deaths in a week is also likely to be higher than usual.