According to an article by British news site The Independent, two people in Melbourne, Australia have died after winds and rains from a violent thunderstorm stirred up pollen levels in the air, which led to asthma exacerbations throughout the city. Hundreds in the city were afflicted by respiratory complications and two victims died as a result of what the site called “thunderstorm asthma.”
The article reported that 1,870 people phoned paramedics to report breathing difficulties that were “triggered by an extremely high level of rye grass pollen in the air, whipped up by strong winds.”
The local ambulance dispatch recorded six times more calls than the daily average between 6pm and 11pm local time on Monday Nov 21st. At least 30 people remain in intensive care, the article reported.
Australia Health Minister Jill Hennessy told BBC News that the crisis was so severe that it forced private hospitals to open their doors to the public.
“It was extraordinarily busy, it was unprecedented,” said Mick Stephenson, executive director of emergency operations at Ambulance Victoria. He said about 200 calls were directly linked to asthma, but 600 more reported respiratory issues.