Violent thunderstorms have hit the eastern United States, killing at least 11 people and leaving millions without power after one of the hottest days on record. Resulting power outages are expected to last for days.
As many as three million Americans were without power on Saturday, and officials warned that repairs could take up to a week. Meanwhile, the nation is sweltering in a heatwave, with temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
"This is a very dangerous situation," Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said.
Emergencies have been declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and the nation's capital, Washington, and more storms are feared to be on their way.
Most of the fatalities resulted from trees hitting homes and vehicles. Fatalities were reported in Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky and Washington DC.
A 90-year-old woman died in her bed when a tree slammed into her home in Virginia, and two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent.
With soaring temperatures and no power, millions have been left to suffer in the wake of the storms.
"This is very unfortunate timing," said Myra Oppel, a spokeswoman for energy giant 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 theaters and other places with air conditioning in order to escape the heat.
Responding to crisis
President Barack Obama called the governors of four states to offer his support and condolences for those killed.
The governors of Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia gave Obama updates on their recovery efforts, the White House said.
The White House added that US disaster officials would be on hand to provide assistance, "especially considering the power outages and the high temperatures many of the impacted areas are currently experiencing."
tm/ccp (dpa, AP, AFP)