EAST'S HEAT MELTS RECORD AFTER RECORD In South Carolina, the traditional way to cool off is to sit on the veranda with a glass of iced tea. But in Connecticut, respite comes by way of thunderstorms. Triple-digit temperatures gripped the East Coast over the weekend as a record-breaking heatwave entered its second, or in some places, third week. Twenty people have died of heat-related causes in the past week. New York City recorded its third straight day over 100 degrees on Saturday, tying a record dating to 1948. Philadelphia tied a similar reco rd set in 1966. The Northeast was expected to get some relief tomorrow, with a frontal system from the West. Temperatures in Columbia, S.C., topped 90 degrees for the 16th day. Farmers in Massachusetts have lost thousands of chickens, and dairymen in North Carolina expect low milk production. MIA issue resurfaces

Sen. Bob Smith (R) of New Hampshire, returning from a four- day trip to Vietman, criticized the official United States investigation into missing servicemen from the Vietnam War yesterday.

Senator Smith pressed Vietnam for greater cooperation in resolving the 2,253 cases of US servicemen still officially listed as missing from the Vietnam War.

He and his delegation also tried to verify witnesses' accounts of live American prisoners held after the war ended in 1975, but came up with little concrete evidence. He said he came away convinced that some could still be alive in Vietnam.

President Clinton must decide by Sept. 14 whether to extend the US economic embargo against Vietnam for another year. The US has said it will not lift sanctions until Vietnam provides the fullest possible accounting of MIAs. Monsoons flood India

At least 102 people have died in monsoon-related incidents in several parts of India, while raging rivers flooded swaths of land, news reports said yesterday. About 2 million people have suffered because of the monsoon that has lashed many parts of the country since the last week of June, The Hindustan Times newspaper said.

Most of the deaths occurred due to drowning, collapsing houses and trees, electrocution, and landslides, the reports said. Searching for Aideed

Somali snipers wounded three French peacekeepers Saturday as the UN offered a reward for fugitive warlord Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed. The attack was the second on the 20,000-strong UN force in Somalia in 24 hours; four Norwegians were wounded in a mortar attack on the UN base Friday.

The UN has issued posters offering $25,000 for General Aideed's arrest, blaming him for starting attacks that have killed 34 peacekeepers and about 100 Somalis in 32 days of ambushes, hit-and-run raids, and anti-UN rallies. Mexico may take Chinese

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Mexico has signaled a willingness to break a diplomatic logjam with the US and accept an estimated 1,400 Chinese illegal immigrants off its shores.

President Clinton had declined permission for the seven ships to dock at a US port. Many undocumented immigrants who land in the US request political asylum, triggering lengthy legal proceedings and costly detention.

The Mexican government had initially rejected a US request to detain the Chinese until a UN commission determined whether they are political refugees. Maids accuse Kuwaitis

Filipino maids returning en masse to the Philippines from Kuwait accused their employers yesterday of assault, rape, and refusing to pay their wages. More than 400 Filipino maids have returned home in the past two weeks under a Kuwaiti-funded repatriation scheme.

One of the women said in a radio interview that one of her companions had been drugged by her Kuwaiti employer before being sexually abused. Others complained that they had been beaten or not paid their wages.

About 150,000 Asian servants, 10,000 of them Filipinos, work in Kuwait. Kuwaiti officials say reports of abuse are made up or exaggerated by a few women who want to go home.

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