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7 More Deaths Blamed on Unrelenting Heat in Dallas

From Reuters

An intense heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring up to 110 degrees has killed at least 15 people in the Dallas area, including seven since Sunday.

Officials said Monday that five people succumbed to the heat Sunday, when thermometers hit an 18-year high of 110 degrees, and that another two people died Monday.

They said they were investigating to see whether two other deaths might also be heat-related.

Charles Gaylor, a field agent at the Dallas County medical examiner’s office, said most victims were either middle-aged or elderly and many of them had heart disease or other serious ailments.

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“The heat is an extra stress on an already ill person,” he said, adding that searing heat can kill healthy people, too, if they are not careful.

He said the seven people killed during the last two days all showed body temperatures of at least 108 degrees when they were found dead or rushed to the hospital.

One of the victims, 83-year-old Mai Washington, was found at her home by two nieces early Monday morning. She lived alone and had an air conditioner, but it was not turned on.

Health officials say many people are too concerned about high electricity bills to keep their air conditioners turned on.

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Gaylor said there had been 15 heat-related deaths in Dallas since June 1, with 12 of those in the last 10 days.

Temperatures hit 100 degrees for the eighth straight day Monday, bringing the total triple-digit days this summer to 21.

Weather experts say it is the most severe heat wave to hit the Dallas area since the record-breaking summer of 1980, when temperatures rose above 100 degrees on 69 days.

But this year’s death toll is already close to that of 1980, when 20 people died from the heat.

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“It is pretty bad right now,” Gaylor said.


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