More than 125 killed as high-velocity dust storm, major thunderstorm hit India
More than 90 people were killed on Wednesday, May 2 and Thursday, May 3, 2018 after a ferocious thunderstorm accompanied by a high-velocity dust storm and large hail hit parts of India. The storm destroyed numerous houses, uprooted trees and downed more than 8 000 electricity poles in Rajasthan alone, disrupting electricity across a vast area. The worst affected are the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan where at least 70 people lost their lives. The death toll is expected to rise.
The storm killed more than 90 people, injured more than 140 and left a trail of destruction in 5 Indian states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana, with Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan the worst affected. In addition, more than 150 animals were also killed.
According to local media reports, more than 64 people died in Uttar Pradesh, of which at least 47 in Agra, home to Taj Mahal, after heavy rains, hail storm and lightning struck western parts of the state. Bijnore, Saharanpur and Bareilly are the other badly affected districts of UP.
27 lives were lost In Rajasthan and several people were injured after a powerful dust storm swept through the state. Officials said that dust storms are common in this part of India during summer but loss of life on this scale is unusual.
"I've been in office for 20 years and this is the worst I've seen," Hemant Gera, secretary for disaster management and relief in Rajasthan, told the BBC. "We had a high-intensity dust storm on April 11 when 19 people died then – but this time it struck during the night so many people died sleeping when their mud walls collapsed due to high-intensity winds or the trees fell over the houses."
The Hindustan Times said Bharatpur suffered the maximum damage in Rajasthan in terms of loss to life as 16 people were killed in the district. 9 people died in neighboring Dholpur in the high-speed dust storm that started around 19:00 local time.
Locals say winds blew more than 120 km/h (74 mph).
Normal life was also hit in many places in Punjab and Haryana, including Chandigarh, on Wednesday after a high-velocity dust storm. Capital Delhi was also affected with heavy rains but there are no reports of deaths or injuries coming from the city.
The death toll has risen to at least 125, officials said early Friday, adding that more bad weather is expected and the death toll could rise over the coming days.
A spokesperson for the Uttar Pradesh relief commissioner's office said the death toll was the highest from such storms in at least 20 years.
Featured image: Dust storm hit Rajasthan on May 2, 2018. Credit: ANI
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