Indian dust storm kills more than 100, leaves 200 injured

Workers have started to restore electricity as homes, crops extensively damaged; herds killed

A damaged electric pole is pictured in a market after strong winds and dust storm in Alwar, in Rajasthan. Photograph: Reuters

A damaged electric pole is pictured in a market after strong winds and dust storm in Alwar, in Rajasthan. Photograph: Reuters

 

Workers were rushing to restore electricity to scores of towns and villages in northern and western India on Friday after a powerful dust storm and thundery showers caused more than 100 deaths and injured another 200 people.

Winds blew at up to 130kp (80mph) as the storm swept through Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan states on Wednesday night, demolishing hundreds of mud huts, uprooting trees and causing extensive damage to wheat and vegetable crops. It also killed scores of cattle and buffalo.

A tree was uprooted after massive storm, near Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. Photograph: EPA/VISHAL
A tree was uprooted after massive storm, near Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. Photograph: EPA/VISHAL

Electricity poles and transformers were damaged, plunging parts of 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh state into darkness, state relief commissioner Sanjay Kumar said on Friday.

Amid repair and relief work, India’s meteorological department warned that another powerful dust storm would sweep parts of the two states this weekend.

At least 70 people were killed and another 83 injured by the storm in Uttar Pradesh state, which sent tin roofs and advertising displays flying in 10 worst-hit districts, Mr Kumar said.

The devastation was particularly severe in Agra, the city where the white marble Taj Mahal is located. Forty-three people died there, but there was no damage to the monument, Mr Kumar said.

In neighbouring Rajasthan state, another 36 people died and 150 were injured. Many of the dead were sleeping when their houses collapsed after being struck by lightning or gusts of wind.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the storm triggered traffic jams and delayed some trains in Rajasthan state as overhead power lines snapped.

The rainstorm caught people by surprise as the monsoon season is still more than six weeks away.–PA