Jun 30, 2012 / 2:09 pm
Millions across the eastern U.S. sweltered Saturday after violent storms that killed at least 13 people and left 3 million without power during a heat wave that simmered near 100 degrees (40 degrees Celsius).
Power officials said the outages wouldn't be repaired for several days to a week, comparing the damage to a serious hurricane.
Emergencies were declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell warned, "This is a very dangerous situation."
Cell phone and Internet service was spotty, gas stations shut down and residents were urged to conserve water until sewage plants returned to power.
In some Virginia suburbs of Washington, emergency call centres were out of service, and residents were told to call local police and fire departments. Huge trees fell across streets in Washington, crushing cars.
At least six people were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in bed when a tree slammed into her home. Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.
"This is very unfortunate timing," said Myra Oppel, a spokeswoman for Pepco, which reported over 400,000 power outages in Washington and its suburbs. "We do understand the hardship that this brings, especially with the heat as intense as it is."
Some sought refuge in shopping malls, movie theatres and other places where the air conditioning would be turned to "high."
Associated Press writers Vicki Smith in Morgantown, West Virginia, Larry O'Dell in Richmond, Virginia., Pam Ramsey in Charleston, West Virginia, Norman Gomlak in Atlanta, Jeffrey McMurray in Chicago, Doug Ferguson in Bethesda, Maryland, and Rebecca Miller in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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