Violent rain, dust storms kill more than 100 in India

By Susan McFarland  |  Updated May 3, 2018 at 12:29 PM
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May 3 (UPI) -- Dozens of people have died in violent rain and dust storms in northwestern India that collapsed homes, uprooted trees and caused power outages, authorities said Thursday.

Reports of deaths from the storms varied, with some putting the toll at more than 100.

The storms caught many by surprise as they blanketed Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand, injuring hundreds.

Fierce winds and lightning strikes created by a powerful dust storm have killed around 110 people and injured hundreds more in northwestern India since late Wednesday, according to local authorities.

In the state of Rajasthan, at least 35 people died and more than 200 were injured after winds downed more than 8,000 electricity poles and uprooted hundreds of trees, officials said.

"This has resulted in widespread electricity cuts and water shortages. Most of the deaths occurred after walls and roofs of houses collapsed in the middle of the night," Jaipur District Divisional Commissioner T Ravi Kant told CNN.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences and said officials are coordinating with governments to assist those affected.

"Saddened by the loss of lives due to dust storms in various parts of India. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon," Modi said.

The storms produced wind speeds of more than 75 mph, forecasters at Indian Air Force's Kheria base said.

In Alwar, more than 100 trees were uprooted and many electric cables snapped and fell onto cars.

"More than 1,000 electricity poles were uprooted in the storm, plunging the city in darkness. It will take us at least two days to restore supply," said an engineer with the Alwar power company.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted she directed officials to begin relief efforts and restore power.

"An unfortunate incident, we have been working closely with local authorities to mitigate the situation," Raje said.

Weather experts say said another dust storm could hit parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan during the next 48 hours because of cyclonic circulation formation in the region.

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