Monday, July 23, 2007

Romania: Death toll from heat wave 18

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A heat wave that has hit Romania in the past week has killed at least 18 people and caused hundreds to collapse in the street, authorities said Monday.

Temperatures are set to hover above 100 in the south and east for the next two days, with some areas forecast to reach 108.

Most of the deaths were caused by dehydration, Heath Minister Eugen Nicolaescu said.

Some 670 other people — 160 in the capital of Bucharest — have collapsed or fainted in the street due to the heat, the national ambulance service said.

In Bucharest and other cities, tents were set up offering water and first aid.

There were power outages throughout the capital, including at government headquarters, due to heavy use of air conditioning.

Authorities said that Tuesday would be even hotter in Bucharest, and state institutions would close in midmorning and reopen in the evening. Employers were providing free water and reducing work schedules. Elderly residents were urged to not go out during the day.

Interior Minister Cristian David issued warnings for 20 of Romania's 42 counties, and forestry officials were on alert for possible fires.

Drought was also affecting much of the country. In southern Romania, many wells dried up, leaving residents without water. Authorities sent workers to dozens of villages to dig new, deeper wells.

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