At least 13 die in extreme heat wave in US

Officials announced Friday that at least 13 people have died as a result of the intense heat wave that has plagued the southern United States for two weeks, with air in other regions of the country contaminated by forest fires in Canada.

Webb County, Texas, along the Mexican border, had the greatest death toll, with 11 persons killed.

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“As of Wednesday, there has been 11 total deaths,” local officials said in a statement to AFP. “Ten are Webb County residents, the eleventh death was from a neighboring county that was brought to a local hospital and unfortunately passed away.”

A 14-year-old boy died last week while trekking in Texas’ Big Bend National Park, where temperatures hit 119 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius). Tragically, the victim’s stepfather was killed in a car accident while going to the boy’s aid.

According to local officials, a 62-year-old lady died last week in nearby Louisiana after a hurricane left hundreds of homes without power and thus without air conditioning.

Temperatures in major southern US cities have reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit in recent days, with pavement crumbling in Houston, Texas, and authorities putting up cooling centers in the city of 2.3 million people.

Meanwhile, Canada is dealing with the worst forest fire season in its history, which scientists warn is being exacerbated by human-caused climate change.

As the smoke traveled south, significant portions of the United States, home to more than 120 million people, remained under air quality alerts, from the Midwest to the East Coast.

According to the government website AirNow, the air in New York and Philadelphia was deemed unhealthy.

Air quality warnings were also issued for much of the North American Great Lakes region, as well as sections of Minnesota, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Wildfire smoke has also floated across the Atlantic Ocean and over European countries such as Portugal and Spain.

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Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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