At least 70 killed as powerful dust storm and heavy rain slam India
The powerful storm destroyed dozens of homes and blew down trees and power lines in several states
At least 70 people have been killed and over 100 injured after a fresh wave of violent sandstorms and thunderstorms battered India, officials said on Monday. The deaths take the toll from similar storms this month to more than 200.
Winds of over 100km/h (62mph) struck parts of north, east and southern India late on Sunday, uprooting trees, electricity pylons and damaging houses, officials from federal and state disaster management agencies said.
Forty people were killed by hail and thunderstorms that brought down walls, trees and power pylons in Uttar Pradesh state, T. P. Gupta of the state disaster management department said.
In the town of Bareilly, the minaret of a mosque fell on a group of people taking shelter in the courtyard, killing five of them. Three more were injured in the incident.
Another 80 were injured by the winds that flattened nearly 40 houses across India’s most populous state.
Another 14 people were killed on Sunday by thunderstorms in West Bengal and 12 by lightning bolts in Andhra Pradesh.
The southern state had also been hit by more than 40,000 lightning bolts on May 1, killing 14 people in a matter of hours.
The latest storms also killed two people each in Bihar and the capital New Delhi where winds reached more than 100km/h, national disaster management authorities said.
Indira Gandhi International Airport was closed for more than two hours because of the winds, with 70 flights diverted. Train services were also suspended.
“Saddened by the loss of lives due to storms,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. “Condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured.”
Saddened by the loss of lives due to storms in some parts of the country. Condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured. Asked officials to provide all possible assistance to those affected.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 13, 2018
The deaths came just 10 days after a sandstorm left more than 84 dead, most of them in Agra – home of the Taj Mahal.
India has been gripped by a freak weather system since the beginning of May, with many parts of the country experiencing extreme conditions.
Weather forecasters warned of fierce storms in parts of the north and east for the next two days.
Similar storms hit the region every year but this year has been the deadliest. On Thursday a thunderstorm left at least 22 people dead across the country.
The May 2 dust storm killed at least 134 people and caused widespread destruction in the western state of Rajasthan and in northern Punjab and Uttarakhand states.
Additional reporting by Associated Press