A heat wave continued to bake parts of the South on Tuesday, raising the number of heat-linked deaths in Tennessee to at least five and buckling roads in Mississippi.

The temperature in Memphis hit at least 100 degrees again Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of triple-digit highs, as hot air blanketed the south-central portion of the nation. Monday's top reading in the city was 105.

"This is unusual. Last summer we had two (heat-related deaths) all summer. This is five deaths over a six-day period," Shelby County Medical Examiner Karen E. Chancellor said.

The latest two deaths were a 75-year-old man found in a home with no air conditioning and a 77-year-old woman found in her backyard, where she apparently had been gardening, Chancellor said. Both were found Monday.

The heat-related deaths have involved people in homes with no air conditioning or those who have been active outdoors.

The National Weather Service predicts Memphis temperatures will rise beyond the 100-degree mark through Friday.

Temperatures were in the 90s at midday Tuesday from the western Plains to the East Coast, with scattered readings of 100. On Monday, thermometers registered above 100 in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Mississippi and Kansas, the Weather Service said.

Excessive heat warnings were issued for southwestern Tennessee, northern Mississippi, parts of western Arkansas and most of Missouri, where temperatures topped 100 degrees. Much of the rest of the South was under a heat advisory.

The blistering conditions buckled busy highways in Jackson and Vardaman, Miss., snarling traffic, officials said.

ICS Head Start closed 19 preschool facilities in parts of Mississippi until next Monday, citing the heat, said Arvern Moore, the program's executive director.

On Alabama's Gulf Coast, where temperatures have mostly stayed in the upper 90s, the heat is causing problems for Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Jim Fuller, who works with Katrina victims along the coast, said many victims are still living in damaged homes that have not been repaired, or in trailers.

Comment: 2 years after the Hurricane and still the victims are suffering basic needs.

"Some people are still living in houses with tarps over the roof," Fuller said.

South Carolina, Missouri and Mississippi have each reported one heat-related death, and Illinois blamed three deaths on the heat since Thursday. Kentucky officials said the heat may have been to blame for one death, but that had not yet been confirmed.


Associated Press writers Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala. and Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Miss. contributed to this report.