UK & World News
US Swelters After Deadly Thunderstorms
Millions of people across the eastern United States are baking in record heat after deadly thunderstorms downed powerlines from Indiana to Maryland.
At least 12 people were killed and more than 3 million homes and businesses left without power after hurricane-force winds battered a 500-mile stretch of the mid-Atlantic region.
Emergencies were declared in Washington DC, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia because of damage from overnight storms.
President Barack Obama has now authorised the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the storm-ravaged Ohio.
The storms' rampage was followed by roasting temperatures that topped 100F (37C). In Atlanta, it reached 106F (41C) and in Charlotte, North Carolina, it hit 102F (38C).
Officials have warned that restoring power in some areas could take up to a week.
Utilities in Ohio, Virginia and Maryland described storm damage to their power grids as catastrophic.
"It's going to be a while before some folks get power, and with the heat, that's our big concern," said Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Six people were killed in Virginia in storm-related incidents, and more than 1million customers were left without power in the worst outage not linked to a hurricane in the state's history, he said.
Two Maryland residents died in the storm, one struck by a falling tree in Anne Arundel County, the other electrocuted after a tree crashed into a house in Montgomery County.
In New Jersey, two cousins aged 2 and 7 were killed by a falling tree in a state park, and in eastern Tennessee, heat was blamed for the deaths of two brothers, ages 3 and 5, in Bradley County who had been playing outside in 105F heat.
In Maryland, about 800,000 customers are believed to be without power, according to state emergency management agency spokesman Edward Hopkins
Several high voltage transmission lines that carry power long distances were significantly damaged by the storm, he said.
"In many cases, it could take up to five to six days for the restoration of services to those lines," he added.
Ohio, where one storm-related death was reported, faced similar difficulties.
Outages hit two-thirds of the state with about 1million homes and businesses left without electricity.
Governor John Kasich said it could take a week to fully restore power.
West Virginia was also hard hit, with about 614,000 customers without power, said Terrance Lively, spokesman for the state emergency management agency.
Further north, there were power cuts from Indiana to New Jersey. The storm also knocked out Amtrak passenger rail service between Washington and Philadelphia.
The National Weather Service has forecast more heat and severe thunderstorms across the Ohio Valley, through the mid-Atlantic states and into New York.
Up and down the East Coast, state and local officials urged residents to seek air-conditioned spaces, drink lots of water and wear light-coloured clothing.
They also called on people to watch out for those most vulnerable to high heat - the elderly, small children and the mentally ill.
"Our biggest concern right now is temperatures going up to 100F today," said Ed McDonough, spokesman for the Maryland emergency management agency.
Records for June were broken on Friday in Washington, Atlanta, Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky.
The temperature hit at least 104 F (40 C) in all four cities, according to the National Weather Service.
The high heat prompted the AT&T National golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, to close the competition to spectators and volunteers on Saturday.