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Environment

At least 22 dead after US storms cut power in East

Workers remove parts of a fallen tree from a telephone line July 1, 2012 in Hyattsville, Maryland. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI)

WASHINGTON: Millions of people in the eastern U.S. faced a third sweltering day without power Monday as the death toll from weekend summer storms rose to 22.

Stifling homes and spoiled food were some of the challenges as temperatures approached or exceeded 100 degrees (40 degrees Celsius). Concerns rose about the sick and elderly staying cool.

Around 2 million customers from North Carolina to New Jersey and as far west as Illinois were without power, and utility officials said power likely would not return for several days.

Since Friday, severe weather has been blamed for the 22 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars. At least 10 of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in her bed when a tree slammed into her home.

The power outages had prompted concerns of traffic problems, but federal and state officials in Washington, D.C., and Maryland gave many workers the option of staying home Monday.

Hundreds of traffic signals were still not working, and dozens of secondary roads were closed.

"If you have to drive or need to drive, leave yourself a lot of extra time," Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said. "There's going to be delays."

Power crews from as far away as Florida and Oklahoma were on their way to the region to help get power restored.

 

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