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Deadly dust storm plunges Kanpur into darkness, India

deadly-dust-storm-plunges-kanpur-into-darkness-india

A massive dust storm followed by heavy rains that lasted for nearly two hours wreaked havoc in the industrial city of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India on Monday, May 23, 2016, The Times of India reports. Across the state, the storm claimed at least five lives, uprooted trees, and caused heavy damage.

The storm hit Kanpur at 21:30 (local time) and was followed by torrential rains and strong winds that brought vehicular traffic to a standstill.

According to The Times of India, meshes used to uphold the roadside hoardings tore apart, and many fell on roads causing traffic snarls and blockages. Strong winds uprooted trees and tilted a number of electricity poles leading to power cuts in major parts of the city. It may take about 24 hours to fully restore the power, the report said. One person was killed in Kanpur rural due to an incident related to the dust storm.

In other parts of the state, the dust storm claimed at least four more lives and caused heavy damage to mango crops, electric poles, and other infrastructure, Indo-Asian News Service reported.

One man was killed in Meerut district when a hoarding ripped apart from the poles hit him. An infant was killed in Daboi Khurd village of Sambhal district when a wall collapsed on her.  More incidents of wall collapse claimed a life each in Hardoi and Unnao districts. The overhead wire on the railway tracks near the Mathura oil refinery snapped leading to halting of trains for more than an hour. The news service added that railway traffic was also hit at many other places.

The storm and subsequent torrential rains also hit Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and the plains of North India including North Rajasthan. According to Skymet Weather, more than 20 flights were diverted from the Delhi airport and many others were delayed in the wake of the dust storm, squally winds, and thundershowers. Their report said a signboard near the DLF Mall of India in Noida Sector 18 collapsed and fell on a car due to thunderstorm and killed one and injured two other. 

The maximum temperature in Hisar, Narnaul, Rohtak and Delhi had touched 40 °C (104 °F) in the afternoon hours. However, rain and thundershowers brought down temperatures significantly; from a high of 40.9 °C (105.6 °F) by 14:30 in Delhi, the temperature dropped to 27 °C (80.6 °F) around 17:30.

This spell of rain could be attributed to a cyclonic circulation over North Rajasthan and adjoining Punjab, which has been induced by an active Western Disturbance over Jammu and Kashmir. A trough from this system is also extending up to Gangetic West Bengal, across Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Moist easterly winds were reaching up to Haryana and Punjab, during the reign of cyclonic storm Roanu. After its dissipation, the east-west trough increased moisture content over the plains of North India. The combined effect of these weather systems led to thundery cloud formation over many parts of North India, which brought good thundershowers at many places, Skymet explained.

The weather will clear up, but severe heatwave conditions are not expected as another spell is expected around May 29.

Featured image: NASA Terra/MODIS image acquired May 24, 2016.

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