Twenty-three heat-related deaths reported yesterday in Kansas City brought the death toll there to 111, making it the hardest hit city in the nation. Elsewhere, Oklahomans prayed for rain and 100 children collapsed at a Houston swimming meet.

Hope for a respite from the month-long heat wave that has claimed more than a thousand lives faded as a tropical depression off the Texas coast fizzled. A cold front moving into the Midwest from the Rockies was expected to bring only temporary relief.

"We've been graphing the temperatures and the number of deaths," said Sgt. James Treece of Kansas City's Heat Wave Command Post. "It seems like every three days, it [the number of deaths] jumps." He said officials did not know why.

The temperature in Kansas City topped 100 yesterday for the 17th straight day, eclipsing a record set in August 1936 when the city experienced 16 days in a row of 100-plus temperatures. Thirty National Guardsmen continued to deliver fans to residents.

The Guard was also out in St. Louis, where the death toll remained at 109 over the weekend. In St. Louis, guardsmen were going door-to-door, looking for elderly people suffering from the heat.

"One woman told me, 'You're too late. My husband died last week,' said guardsman James Walls, who participated in the campaign.

"We've made up a list of 54 people whom we feel need watching and follow-up by the agencies," said Capt. Gary Mann. He said the Guard called for emergency assistance for eight people, with one hospitalized.

In Oklahoma, Gov. George Nigh declared yesterday a "special day of prayer for rain in Oklahoma," where the month-long string of blistering days has burned up crops and cut deeply into livestock and poultry supplies. The heat has caused 37 deaths and water is being rationed in parts of the state.

Dr. Bailey E. Smith, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, said the congregation honored Nigh's request when 3,000 people joined hands and prayed for rain. "The farmers sure need it -- we all need it," Smith said.

In Houston 100 children were treated for heat exhaustion, heat cramps and shock before a swimming meet was called to an end at 4 p.m. Saturday.

"We had a mini-disaster out there," said Joe Mason, of the Harris County Emergency Corps. A team of 20 emergency medical personnel set up an aid station.

The meet started at 8 a.m. "We had a few people we treated before noon," Mason said, "then they really started coming in as the temperature climbed" to the high 90s.

A cool front reached northwest Kansas yesterday and was expected to sweep across the state, bringing with it sorely needed rain and a brief respite from the 100-degree temperatures. But Ron Crandall, the National Weather Service forecaster for Kansas, said relief from the heat wave would likely be short-lived.