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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Monday, 20 August 2007 13:42 UK

US Midwest heatwave kills dozens

A sign shows the temperature in Nashville, Tennessee (17 August 2007)
Temperatures are set to remain close to 100F (38C) this week

A two-week heatwave in the southern and Midwestern US has resulted in the deaths of at least 43 people, many of whom were elderly, officials have said.

On Sunday, temperatures dropped to 94F (34C) in Memphis, Tennessee - the first time in 10 days they did not top 100F.

Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Mississippi have also been affected.

Meanwhile, at least 13 people died in severe flooding in the nearby states of Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas.

Thunderstorms caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin dropped up to 1ft (30cm) of rain in southern parts of the region, causing rivers to burst their banks and forcing hundreds of people from their homes.

In Caddo County, Oklahoma, three women from the same family were killed when the van in which they were travelling was swept away by rushing water.

Another woman drowned near Fort Cobb when she sought shelter from the storms in her cellar.

The floods have killed at least six people in Oklahoma, six in Minnesota and one in Texas.

Hotline

Authorities said the heat-related deaths in the neighbouring southern states have involved many people who live in homes with no air-conditioning, or those who have been active outdoors.

The latest victims were a 74-year-old asthmatic who died after working in his garden near Memphis on Saturday morning, and a 60-year-old man who was found dead in his home on Friday evening.

The effects of heat on the body
20C (68F) Comfortable. Heart rate normal
25C (77F) Light sweating
30C (86F) Discomfort: Blood cools at skin surface. Concentration affected. Moderate sweating
40C (104F) Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating. Rapid heart rate. Tiredness. Nausea
45C (113F) Heat stroke: Sweating stops. Hot, dry skin. Core temperature rises. Fainting. Danger of organ damage and death

In response, Shelby County medical examiner Karen Chancellor told local residents with chronic respiratory or heart conditions to take special precautions.

The county's mayor, A C Wharton, said he had set up a hotline to help those who needed relief from the heat. It included information on local cooling centres and free fans for the elderly.

Mr Wharton said the city's "heat index", a measure that factors in humidity to describe how hot the weather feels, had risen above 100F every day since 27 June.

Weather forecasters said the temperature would be around 96F (36C) on Monday and remain close to 100F (38C) for the rest of the week.

According to officials, the heatwave has been responsible for 12 deaths in Tennessee, nine in Missouri, eight in Alabama, four in Arkansas, four in Georgia, three in Illinois, two in South Carolina and one in Mississippi.

Last summer, a heatwave killed at least 143 people in California.



SEE ALSO
More deaths blamed on US heatwave
03 Aug 06 |  Americas
Deaths mount amid California heat
29 Jul 06 |  Americas
Hot weather risks
29 Jun 09 |  Health

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