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France's heat death toll now put at 15,000

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 10, 2003

PARIS - France's leading undertaker estimated the country's death toll from the summer heat wave at 15,000 on Tuesday, far exceeding the official tally and putting further pressure on the government to improve its health care system.

The estimate by the General Funeral Services included deaths from the second half of August, after the record-breaking temperatures of the first half of the month had abated, said company spokeswoman Isabelle Dubois-Costes.

The bulk of the victims - many of them elderly - died during the height of the heat wave, which brought temperatures of up to 104 degrees. Others apparently were greatly weakened during the peak temperatures but did not die until days later.

Elsewhere . . .

VOTE ON LIBYA POSTPONED: The U.N. Security Council delayed a vote to lift sanctions against Libya until Friday, after France threatened a veto to gain more money for the relatives of people killed in a French airline bombing.

IRAN ACCUSATIONS: In Vienna, the United States accused Iran on Tuesday of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but said Tehran had "a last chance" to prove it wasn't running a covert weapons program. Backed by key allies, chief U.S. delegate Kenneth Brill took Iran to task on the basis of a report outlining discrepancies between its past statements and findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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