Heatwave kills seven in Argentina

Teenagers cool down in a water fountain in Buenos Aires, 26/12/2013 Meteorologists say some of the highest temperatures have been recorded since records began

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A heatwave affecting Argentina has left at least seven people dead - most of them elderly - in the past week, officials say.

The heat has been compounded by power cuts, which have prevented many people from using air conditioning.

In Santiago del Estero and other northern provinces temperatures have soared to over 45C (113F).

Meteorologists say it has been the worst heatwave in the region since records began in 1906.

The victims of the extreme weather lived in Santiago del Estero, located 1,100km (680 miles) north of Buenos Aires.

Hundreds of people in the province have required medical help and doctors have warned people to stay indoors during the hottest hours.

Tyres on fire

Argentina's ageing power grid has been struggling to keep up with increased demand for air-conditioning.

Ice cream parlours and other businesses have lost their stocks due to the power cuts

Authorities are blaming the energy shortages on the hot weather. But the opposition accuses the government of mismanaging the crisis.

Many people are protesting about the lack of services, says the BBC's Irene Caselli in Buenos Aires. Some parts of the city have been without power for two weeks.

Residents have set fire to rubbish bags and tyres on the roads, causing traffic jams as many left the capital for the new year festivities.

Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, a former ally of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, said private energy suppliers could not take all the blame.

"The main responsibility is with the federal government," he said. "The government must make sure there is an investment programme, which has not happened in the last decade."

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