Page last updated at 21:49 GMT, Thursday, 3 August 2006 22:49 UK

More deaths blamed on US heatwave

A woman fans herself in the heat on the New York subway
For many a break in the heat cannot come soon enough

The heatwave affecting parts of the eastern US has been blamed for causing a string of deaths and triggering a record demand for electricity.

Scattered power blackouts were reported on the eastern seaboard of the US as temperatures reached up to 101F (38C).

Authorities have blamed the heat for causing the deaths of at least 13 people since Sunday, and suspect it may have contributed to seven more.

Forecasters say the high temperatures are set to cool slightly on Friday.

Cooling centres

In Boston, a pregnant woman is thought to have died from the heat as she watched a Red Sox baseball game. Doctors at a nearby hospital were able to save her baby.

The blistering heat is also believed to have caused the death of an 18-month-old boy in a van about 97km (60 miles) north-east of Lexington, Kentucky.

On Wednesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to conserve energy to avoid the blackouts experienced last month.

According to the Associated Press news agency, Consolidated Edison, the company which serves New York electricity customers, set its second record in two days for peak power demand.

I've been here when it's been 10 below zero, and the fruit actually freezes, so this weather is no problem
Costas Katemis
Boston fruit vendor

Temperatures during Thursday were around 95F (35C) in Central Park and 100F (38C) at Newark International Airport, the New York Times reported.

Across the city, 383 "cooling centres" were opened, and public pools kept open for extended hours.

Costas Katemis, a fruit vendor outside Boston's South Station train terminus, shrugged off the heat.

"I've been here when it's been 10 below zero, and the fruit actually freezes, so this weather is no problem," he said.

At Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, animals were fed with frozen lollipops - blood for lions, fruit for monkeys - in an effort to cool them down.

Dodging the heat

New York City has not seen such a string of hot temperatures since July 1999.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said the temperatures were "extremely dangerous".

Amir Jackson,13, enjoys an open fire hydrant in north Philadelphia
Locals have cooled off under fire hydrants as temperatures soar

The use of lifts in New York was reduced in city administration buildings in a bid to conserve energy and major private companies also announced conservation measures.

The mayor's office issued guidelines for the use of air-conditioning in homes, urging people not to leave it on when not at home.

Last month, thousands of people in the New York borough of Queens endured high temperatures with no electricity, after distribution cables failed.

In California, the record 15-day heatwave was blamed for 136 deaths and widespread power cuts, but temperatures have now cooled.

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