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'Absolutely heartbreaking'

The number of fatal overdoses in Vancouver so far this year has exceeded the total number of illicit-drug fatalities for all of 2016.

The city says 232 people have fatally overdosed so far this year.

The provincial coroner's service reported 231 overdose deaths in Vancouver last year.

The city says an estimated 400 people could die by the end of the year based on the current numbers.

Mayor Gregor Robertson calls the rising number of overdose deaths "absolutely heartbreaking," adding the decriminalization of illicit drugs and expansion of injectable treatment options, such as medical-grade heroin, must be explored.

Robertson says first responders have handled an average of 135 overdose calls a week this year.

The coroner's service reported 780 deaths provincewide by the end of June, suggesting this year's overdose fatalities will far exceed the nearly 1,000 deaths in 2016.



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