Sat, May 05, 2018 - Page 6 News List

India dust storm death toll above 140

AFP, KHERAGARH, India

The death toll from freak storms that hit India yesterday climbed above 140 as people told how they had no time to escape the ferocious winds which tore down homes and toppled walls.

Amid warnings of further wild weather, thousands of families spent the night in the open air in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

They told how 130kph winds carrying choking sand hit so quickly late on Wednesday that they had no time to reach safety from falling walls and trees.

The storms claimed 121 lives in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and nearby Uttarakhand and Punjab states, according to the latest tolls.

Separately 21 people were killed by lightning in two southern states.

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh, where 76 died, and Rajasthan, where the storms claimed 39 lives, battled to restore power, clear roads and help people who lost houses.

Residents remained fearful.

“We couldn’t sleep and were worried if the storm hits again. We took precautions and secured everything, but nothing can stand up to nature’s fury,” 40-year-old Agra resident Munna Lal Jha said.

Kheragarh resident Ram Bhorosi told how his son and a nephew died when their house caved in as they welcomed people who had attended his daughter’s wedding ceremony.

“We had guests at home and my son went inside the room to get a bed when the storm struck,” Bhorosi said. “A big stone crushed his head after the roof collapsed. His cousin was also caught under the crumbling roof. Half a dozen men helped us to clear the rubble to take out [the] bodies. They didn’t get time to raise the alarm, it was so sudden.”

In nearby Burera village, Anil Kumar told of his narrow escape when his house fell down.

“We were sitting outside when the winds suddenly started raging. Four of us were crushed under the debris after the wall fell. My grandfather died, but the others survived with injuries,” Kumar said.

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