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Monday, July 27, 1998 Published at 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK

World: Americas

US heatwave's deadly toll

Crops that should be six feet high are dying

The heatwave in the United States has killed up to 143 people, over half of them in Texas.

Bridget Kendall reports: "No respite in sight"
Texas has recorded daytime temperatures of above 100° Farenheit (37° Celsius) for 20 days in a row, and there has been no rain since April.

President Clinton has already ordered disaster relief for Texas, and the other 10 states hit worst by this weather.

But volunteers delivering thousands of fans and air-conditioning units, cannot keep pace with demand.

Farmers facing disaster

The draught and the soaring temperature have also had disastrous effects on agricultural production, as stunted crops are yielding less than half what they should do.

Instead of waist high green fields, many local farmers are facing bankruptcy.

With no rain in sight, ranchers are running out of grass to feed their cattle, and many have no option but to sell off their stock at a loss, which has sent livestock prices plummeting.

Correspondents say if the draught and heatwave continue, it could have a devastating effect on the American agriculture and economy.

Getting tanned

In Dallas, though, residents still do what they always do when it gets hot: spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned shopping malls.

The heat wave has provided an unexpected boost for local tanning salons. Too hot outside, Texans are coming to these salons to get a suntan.

One business said they had 2.5 times more people than usual.

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