The blizzard-related death toll in the Buffalo area is now up to 25 people and could increase, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reported Monday morning.

The number dead is now higher than the blizzard of 1977, he said. That year, 23 people died.

Officials added 12 weather-related deaths this morning to the 13 announced Sunday. They have not yet released the causes of death. They have also not yet released the ages, gender or locations of the dead.

Some other fatalities have been falsely attributed to the storm because some natural deaths have been handled by police, who responded before funeral homes. Officials expect the numbers to change as medical examiners work, he said.

A number of people have died from cardiac arrest while shoveling or blowing snow, he said.

Poloncarz urged people with heart conditions, no matter their age, to avoid clearing the deep, heavy snow.

“This is a horrible situation,” he said.

The blizzard began Friday, dumping nearly 4 feet of snow in the Buffalo area and making many roads impassable.

The snow is still falling. Some parts of the county could see another 8 to 12 inches by 1 p.m. Tuesday.

More than 12,000 people still do not have power.

Roads are filled with abandoned vehicles, facing every direction. The travel ban is still in effect for the city of Buffalo and some suburbs. Drivers who cannot prove emergency authorization will be ticketed, officials said.

“The city of Buffalo is impassible in most areas,” Poloncarz said.

Officials at Monday’s briefing also addressed reports of looting at stores. About a dozen gas stations have reported looting, which is affecting the ability to resupply first responders, they said.

Poloncarz said there have been bright moments in the city as neighbors look out for others. First responders, led by a snow plow, helped a woman with a complicated pregnancy arrive at the hospital for a successful birth. He said tourists on a “Winter Wonderland” tour were sheltering at a senior center and “getting more than they bargained for.”

Related: Parts of Thruway remain closed after historic blizzard

Contact Michelle Breidenbach | | 315-470-3186.

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