New Delhi: A heavy dust storm swept across parts of India on Wednesday, wreaking havoc in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, killing over 100 people and leaving a trail of destruction.
In UP, the high-intensity dust storm left 68 people dead and 55 injured. Agra district was the worst hit, accounting for 36 deaths. In Rajasthan, 36 people were killed and about 100 injured.
Houses collapsed and poles and trees were uprooted in the storm that led to power outages in UP. The state government has sounded an alert for the next 48 hours.
UP state Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar also issued directions for immediate distribution of relief to the affected in Agra.
“The Chief Secretary has spoken to Commissioner of Agra division and directed him that relief be distributed by the evening and senior officers visit the injured in hospitals,” Principal Secretary (Information) Avanish Awasthi told mediapersons.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is campaigning for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Legislative Assembly elections in Karnataka, asked officials to “personally” monitor relief work.
Taking a dig at Adityanath, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the CM was busy electioneering “elsewhere” when a dust storm killed so many people in his state.
In Rajasthan, CM Vasundhara Raje declared a compensation of Rs400,000 (Dh22,000) for the family of those killed.
“An unfortunate incident, we have been working closely with local authorities to mitigate the situation. Several ministers are monitoring the situation. Gulabchand Kataria shall be looking after Alwar and Arun Chaturvedi will monitor relief operations in Dholpur district. Our government stands firmly with its people in this time,” she said.
Raje said the concerned officials were trying hard to restore utilities.
The storm caused major destruction in Alwar district of Rajasthan where hundreds of trees were uprooted, many of which fell on stationary vehicles.
Alwar’s collector Rajan Vishal confirmed three deaths.
“Three deaths can be confirmed as of now. The twenty injured have been admitted to the trauma ward in the government hospital in Alwar,” he said.
Secretary of Disaster Management and Relief Hemant Kumar Gera informed Gulf News that about 120 persons were injured in the storm.
“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. Contingency funds have been released to the respective district administrations. An amount of Rs400,000 will be given to family members of deceased, Rs200,000 to persons sustaining 60 per cent injuries and Rs60,000 to people with 40 to 50 per cent injuries,” Gera said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered his condolences to the families of those affected in the storm.
“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. Have asked officials to coordinate with the respective state governments and work towards assisting those who have been affected,” he tweeted.
In Odisha, at least three persons were killed and several others injured due to the impact of the storm, accompanied by rain and hail.
The storm swept across Delhi too, but no damage was reported.
In Uttarakhand, state Disaster Mitigation & Management Centre (DMMC) said at least two people were killed in Kumaon and few more injured in other parts after thunderstorm lashed state.
Normal life was also hit in many places in Punjab and Haryana. In Patiala, two people were killed after due to the thunderstorm.
Meanwhile, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday said another dust storm may hit parts of UP and Rajasthan in the next 48 hours.
“There is a high probability that winds will intensify in the next 48 hours in Rajasthan, which may lead to another dust storm. It will affect areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan border, especially Karauli and Dholpur,” IMD scientist Himanshu Sharma told media.