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Heat kills 37 in South, Midwest

August 17, 2007|From the Associated Press

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Unrelenting heat that has baked the Midwest and South for the last 10 days has killed at least 37 people, authorities said Thursday as they reminded people to stay cool and drink plenty of water.

In Tennessee, the Shelby County medical examiner's office confirmed Thursday that heat caused the death of a 53-year-old man found in his apartment Wednesday, bringing the toll in Memphis to eight.

In all, 37 deaths in the South and Midwest have been confirmed as heat-related, and heat is suspected in 10 more, authorities said.

In Memphis on Thursday, the mercury reached 105, a record and the seventh consecutive day of triple-digit temperatures. Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. compared the heat wave to a devastating earthquake and set up a hotline for people to report concerns and request fans.

"This is pretty akin to a seismic event in the sense that there is no remedy, no solution that we here in this room can come up with that will take care of everybody," he said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Thursday that the heat caused nine deaths there and was suspected in seven more. Six of the nine confirmed deaths are in St. Louis.

There were also eight confirmed deaths in Illinois, four each in Arkansas and Georgia, two in South Carolina and one in Mississippi, as well as one death in Tennessee outside Memphis.

In north-central Arkansas, the temperature reached 112 Wednesday in a place called Evening Shade.

"It's miserable," said Sharp County Judge Larry Brown, the county's chief administrative officer.

Road crews were working shorter hours, "coming in early and leaving at noon. By then it's already way over 100 anyway," he said.

At midafternoon Thursday it was 107, Brown said. "It's still like an oven."

In Alabama, state climatologist John R. Christy said the 10-day stretch of triple-digit temperatures was amazing. Fifty-four people were treated in Alabama hospitals Wednesday and Thursday for heat-related illnesses, State Health Officer Donald E. Williamson said.

Meanwhile, in northern Indiana, the National Weather Service confirmed that two tornadoes struck late Wednesday near Argos, about 30 miles south of South Bend, causing limited damage. An estimated 36,500 homes and businesses in Lake County remained without electricity Thursday evening.

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