Children cool themselves in water spray from a fire truck. AFP

The death toll in a week-long eastern Canadian heat wave has reached 54, officials said on Friday.

Most of the victims linked to the “overwhelming heat” were in the Montreal area, which recorded 28 fatalities, metropolitan health authorities told AFP in an email.

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The other victims were reported in the southwest of the French-Canadian province, the Quebec health ministry said.

On Thursday, Environment Canada had forecast a maximum temperature of 35 C (95 F) but said the heat index would make it feel like 45 C.

The mercury has since June 29 regularly topped 30 C, accompanied by stifling humidity levels, but temperatures should drop back to seasonal averages from Saturday.

“Looking at the weather forecast, we are waiting for a return to normal in the coming hours,” said Health Ministry spokeswoman Noemie Vanheuverzwijn.