Americans head for the shade as deadly heatwave increases its grip

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Americans withered under yet another day of searing sun yesterday as a heatwave spread into the urban core of the north-east, while warnings about excessive heat stretched from Kansas to Maine and the Carolinas.

Temperatures hit 100F (38C) in New York's Central Park and in Newark and Teterboro, New Jersey. The National Weather Service said the humidity made those temperatures feel like 116, 114 and 110, respectively.

Taking her daily walk with temperatures already soaring near 90F, Sister Elizabeth Ann Hughes of St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Philadelphia offered her simple strategy – go out only when it's relatively cool and stay in the air conditioning when it's not. "I walk in the shade and get out of the sun before 10 am," she said.

In New York, people looking to beat the heat also were thwarted by warnings urging them to avoid some city waterways after a wastewater treatment plant disabled by fire began spewing millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Hudson River.

Officials cautioned against swimming and bathing at four beaches in the city boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn, especially for people with medical conditions. Across the country, hospital visits soared mainly because of people suffering from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The weather is suspected of contributing to a number of deaths nationwide. At least six more were reported Thursday, including a Michigan restaurant cook who suffered a heart attack after being sent home from his job and a teenage boy who drowned while swimming at summer camp.

In Chicago on Thursday night, hundreds of children and more than a few adults cavorted in a shallow pool of the Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park. Temperatures hovered around 90F in the park, about half a mile from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Christopher and Renee Mickles said they came out in the evening to give their 3-year-old a little exercise after being cooped up in their air-conditioned house.

"It didn't cool off, but at least the sun isn't out," Mr Mickles said. ap

A Pittsburgh man working on the roof of his cousin's home on Thursday found himself stuck in hot tar for nearly two hours. Lamont Robinson said he was "baking like a turkey" after becoming stuck in the slick.