US record heatwave leaves dozens dead

The BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani says people have been enduring triple-digit temperatures

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At least 42 people have died in a heatwave that has brought soaring temperatures to a dozen US states from the Midwest to the East Coast.

Crops shrivelled and roads and railway lines buckled in the heat.

Hundreds of records fell across the affected area on Friday and Saturday, but the heat was expected to ease slightly on Sunday.

Severe storms are expected to follow. Many homes in the region are still without power after storms a week ago.

Media reports say many of the deaths were of elderly people stuck in homes without air conditioning because of the outages.

Ten deaths in Chicago were blamed on the heat, and at least 10 each in the eastern states of Virginia and Maryland.

Three each died in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and two in Tennessee.

A four-month-old girl died after being left in a car for "an extended period" outside her home in Greenfield, Indiana.

On Saturday temperatures reached 105F (41C) in Washington DC - just short of the hottest ever recorded in the city - and 107F (42C) in St Louis, Missouri, which also extended its record for consecutive days over 100F to 10.

"It's hotter than hell," tourist John Ghio, visiting the White House, told Reuters news agency.

"Too hot," said Chinese tourist Xiao Duan, 30, who was also visiting Washington.

"My father says it's like we're being burned by flames."

High temperatures have also hit parts of Canada, with temperatures on Friday breaking 11 daily records in Ontario.

Storms to follow
crews set up to help visitors at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, after storms 5 July 2012 A command centre in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park helped visitors after the deadly storm

Hundreds of thousands of people in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland and Indiana are still enduring power outages caused by storms that swept through the area one week ago.

A number of cities have opened cooling centres and extended opening hours for public swimming pools.

Some communities are offering meals to residents whose food has spoiled after their refrigerators stopped working.

Officials in Chicago cancelled summer schools classes in 21 buildings without air conditioning because of the heat.

The heat there buckled a major road, cracking and bulging part of Columbus Drive by 5in (12cm).

Cooler weather is said to be on the way for northern parts of the Midwest, although strong storms could accompany the lower temperatures.

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