At Least 20 Deaths Blamed on Heat

July 19, 2000 -- The death toll continued to mount today as a relentless heat wave continued to bake the Southern tier of the United States and temperatures in several states reached triple digits.

In Texas and Louisiana, as least 20 deaths have been blamed on the heat. New Orleans police today found the body of a woman they believe died from heat-related causes. The woman, authorities said, was found in her rented residence. Investigators say she had three air conditioner units, but did not like to use them.

With the discovery of the latest body, Louisiana officials believe at least eight people have died since Saturday because of high temperatures. The other Louisiana victims include two elderly men, 97-year-old and a 98-year-old. Both were found dead on Sunday, and neither of themhad an air conditioner or fan. Two other elderly women were found dead in Ruston on Tuesday.

Today, temperatures in Texas reached 100 degrees for the eight straight day. Authorities are blaming 12 deaths on the heat.

“When the humidities are so high, it’s more difficult for evaporation to occur in your body and therefore, your body can’t cool and that’s how you accelerate into heat exhaustion and in extreme cases, heat strokes,” said Weather Channel meteorologist John Erdman.

Hotspots in Alabama today were Tuscaloosa and Evergreen, where the temperature reached 101 degrees. The mercury edged past 100 in Tuscaloosa at about 5 p.m. making it a record 14th straight daythat the temperature in the west Alabama town had broken the century mark. Temperatures of 100 degrees also were reported in Montgomery and Dothan.

ABCNEWS Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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