A severe dust storm followed by thunder showers hit parts of the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan overnight, killing over 70 people and leaving a trail of destruction.
Houses collapsed and trees and poles were uprooted in the storm that also led to power outages.
In Uttar Pradesh (UP), the high-intensity dust storm left 45 people dead and 38 injured, Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar told PTI in Lucknow, the state capital. Agra district was the worst hit, accounting for 36 deaths and injuries to 35 others. Besides Agra, the other affected districts were Bijnor, Bareli, Saharanpur, Pilibhit, Firozabad, Chitrakoot, Muzaffarnagar, Rae Bareli and Unnao.
The dust storm also wreaked havoc in Rajasthan, where at least 27 people were killed. The districts of Dholpur, Alwar and Bharatpur were among those affected.
“So far, 27 people have died due to the disaster, including 12 in Bharatpur, 10 in Dholpur and 5 in Alwar. The squall was reported mainly in three districts,” Hemant Kumar Gera, secretary, Disaster Management and Relief, told PTI in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
Two of those killed in Dholpur were from Agra in UP.
He said nearly 100 were injured in the disaster. 20 were injured in Alwar, 32 in Bharatpur and 50 in Dholpur respectively.
“A few are undergoing primary treatment while others were discharged. One critical patient from Dholpur was referred to Jaipur,” he said.
A detailed report of the disaster is awaited even as relief and rescue teams have been pressed into service to clear debris and restore power supply, he said.
Gera said contigency funds have been released to the respective district administration. He said Rs 4 lakh will be given to family members of deceased, Rs 2 lakh to persons sustaining 60 per cent injuries and Rs 60,000 to people with 40 to 50 per cent injuries. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje expressed grief over the calamity and said authorities concerned in the districts have been directed to ensure all possible help to victims
“Condolence for families who lost their loved ones,” she said on Twitter.
Taking note of the havoc caused by the dust storm in the state, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officers concerned to personally monitor relief operations and provide all necessary medical facilities to the affected.