Over 100 killed as powerful dust storms hit northern India

More than 100 people were killed and nearly 200 others injured as dust storms tore across the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan overnight, officials said on Thursday.

Seventy-three people were killed in the country’s largest state Uttar Pradesh and 36 died in the desert state of Rajasthan.

“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,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

“Have asked officials to coordinate with the respective state governments and work towards assisting those who have been affected,” he added.

Forty-three deaths occurred in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh. The Taj Mahal in Agra city escaped damage. Last month, a storm had destroyed two pillars at the entryways to the Taj.

Ten people lost their lives in other parts of Uttar Pradesh including Bijnaur, Saharanpur and Bareilly. Most of the deaths occurred due to falling walls, trees and electric pylons and houses. Some 157 animals were also killed across the state.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to personally monitor relief work and provide medical aid to the affected.

Alwar, Dholpur and Bharatpur districts were the worst hit by the dust storms blowing across the desert in Rajasthan, a state popular with tourists. Nineteen people were killed in Bharatpur district, nine died in Alwar and eight in Dholpur, officials said..

Power supply was cut off in Bharatpur after hundreds of electricity pylons fell in high winds. It may take at least two days for supply to be restored.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje expressed grief over the calamity and said officials have been directed to ensure all possible help to the victims.