New Delhi. A powerful dust storm tore through northern India on Wednesday, killing at least 94 people and toppling houses, trees and power poles, government officials said.
The storm damaged communities in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where more than 400 people were injured when thunder pierced the sky and visibility plummeted. Cities and towns in at least four other states lost power, authorities said.
Witnesses described being surprised by the speed of the storm and the devastation left in its path.
A resident of Khakhawali village in Rajasthan, who only uses Surendra, said that within a few minutes, "the dust accumulated so quickly" that it was impossible to see "millimeters away or keep your eyes open."
"There was the metallic sound of tin roofs and motorcycles being dragged," he said. “Utensils, clothes, it seemed like everything was flying. We found it difficult to stay grounded. The whistle of the wind made our children howl.
The damage was caused by flying debris, lightning and rain as wind speeds in some areas reached 100 miles per hour.
North India is hit by deadly dust storm
At the end of the storm, a girl buried under rubble in the village had died, and a woman nearly lost her arm after she was hit by a tin roof that had been blown away by the wind.
Hemant Gera, who oversees disaster management in Rajasthan, said the storm was the worst to hit the state in nearly three decades. Many people died in their sleep after their houses were destroyed, he said.
"The storm hit when people were home," he said. “The mud walls collapsed, burying them underneath. In many places, trees were uprooted and people were hit by logs and branches, resulting in injuries. "
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"The storm hit when people were all at home," said an official. In many places, trees were uprooted and people were hit by logs and branches. "
Mr. Gera said that the families of those killed would be awarded around $ 6,000 in compensation.
Mahesh Palawat, a meteorologist with Skymet Weather Services, a private forecaster, called the storm a "strange incident" and told The Hindustan Times that the dust storms weren't as big or as intense as the one that hit the country on Wednesday. . Other meteorologists said abnormally high temperatures in parts of northern India had contributed to the formation of the storm.
India's National Disaster Management Authority provided updates on Twitter, writing that the worst affected district was Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, where at least 36 people died. More than 150 animals also died during the storm, the government agency said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences by writing on Twitter that he was "saddened by the loss of life." He led officials to help those who had been affected by the storm.
By Suhasini Raj and Kai Schultz
Original article (in English)