116 killed as storms batter India

A tree that fell down in Agra during the dust storm on Thursday

As many as 70 people were killed in UP and 83 injured, while in Rajasthan 38 died and another 100 were injured in the storm that hit the region around 7 pm.

The devastation was particularly severe on Wednesday night in Agra, the northern Indian city where the white marble Taj Mahal is located.

The India Meteorological Department said there would be more storms over a wider area up to tomorrow.

An official at the disaster control room in the state capital Lucknow told reporters at least 73 deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh, 43 of them in Agra district. "The storms were accompanied by high winds, which not only caused damage but also swept dust into the region".

Of the casualties, many were caused by lightning, which struck at many places after the dust storm settled down.

Over 100 people have been killed and scores have been injured in fierce dust storms that hit the northern parts of India especially in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on Thursday. Some people were killed by lightning, the Associated Press reported.

Senior weather officials said the intensity of the storms, as measured through squalls - winds with speeds greater than 44kmph and lasting longer than a minute - do not point to significant deviations from wind behaviour during dust storms or thunderstorms that occur during April and May across northwestern states. "We have not been able to restore communication with the people but the damage has been intense", the Relief Commissioner said.

"Seventeen persons have died in Bharatpur, nine in Alwar and five in Dholpur district due to the dust storm", Kataria said. Dust storms tore across northern India killing at least 77 people and injuring 143 as trees and walls were flattened by powerful winds, officials said May 3.

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"Most of the 35 deaths and 205 injuries across our state were from three districts Alwar, Dholpur and Bharatpur", Gera said.

On Wednesday evening 36 people died in Agra and the wind reached 130 km / h.

Power was cut in many parts of Rajasthan as thousands of electricity pylons were destroyed.

Dust storms are common in this part of India during summer but loss of life on this scale is unusual. "Condolences to the bereaved families".

"We have similar weather warnings for next two days", Mr Chandravadan said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed sorrow over the deaths and directed officials to coordinate with the states to ensure speedy relief and rehabilitation.

The state government quickly released funds to compensate the families of those killed or for damage.

State BJP president Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey asked party workers and law makers to go to the affected villages and extend help to the victims.

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