Fri, May 04, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Powerful dust storms kill 100 people in India

AFP, AGRA, India

A damaged electricity tower is pictured in a market after strong winds and a dust storm hit Alwar in Rajasthan, India, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Powerful dust storms tore across northern India killing at least 100 people and injuring more than 140 as they flattened houses in their path and warnings were made yesterday of more chaos to come.

Winds of more than 130kph ravaged Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab states, and the death toll was expected to rise, officials said.

The dust storms brought down feeble mud houses, killing people as they slept.

Walls, trees and electricity towers were all torn down by the winds, which were followed by fierce lightning storms.

Similar storms kill hundreds of people each year in India, but these were some of the most severe in recent decades.

Shivam Lohia, who owns a resort hotel in Rajasthan’s Alwar District, said he abandoned his car on the road and ran for his life after it was almost blown away.

“I haven’t seen such a devastating storm in at least 25 years. Everyone was scared and running for cover as trees and homes were getting blown away. It was a nightmare,” Lohia said.

There were 65 confirmed deaths in Uttar Pradesh in the north, 33 in the desert state of Rajasthan to the west and two in Punjab.

Uttar Pradesh’s Agra District was one of the worst hit with more than 40 people killed.

The Taj Mahal is in Agra city, but officials said the monument escaped damage.

Most of the victims were killed as they slept in houses that collapsed, or by falling walls, trees and electricity towers, officials said.

Many people sleep outside in the summer months to escape the high temperatures.

Rescuers were still going through the rubble of felled homes.

“We can confirm at least 65 deaths from around 40 of the state’s 75 districts,” T.P. Gupta of the Uttar Pradesh relief commissioner’s office said.

He called the death toll “unprecedented” from such a storm in the past 20 years.

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