Dust storm: Death toll reaches 97, another storm likely in 48 hours

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

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

NEW DELHI - A powerful dust storm ripped through northern India on Wednesday, killing at least 94 people and toppling houses, trees and electricity poles, government officials said.

The storm barely lasted 15 minutes, but wreaked havoc, especially in Agra, where 46 people were killed and 24 injured, after winds darting at 132 kilometre per hour lashed the region, disrupting road and rail traffic, uprooting trees and power lines, and toppling buildings.

At least 64 people have died in Uttar Pradesh state, a lot of them in Agra district where the Taj Mahal is located.

Hemant Kumar Gera, Secretary, Disaster Management and Relief, said contigency funds have been released to the respective district administration. The damage done by dust storm in Bharatpur was vast as 138 persons suffered injuries, while in Dholpur 50 persons and in Alwar 17 persons received injuries, says, the state government's official figures. "Condolence for families who lost their loved ones", she said on Twitter.

In Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, the death toll has reached 43, while at least 33 have perished in Rajasthan, although the death toll is expected to rise as more people are found beneath the rubble.

In particular, in Uttar Pradesh, victims of the storm were 73 people, 36 people were killed in the desert state of Rajasthan and two in Punjab. May the injured recover soon.

As per the preliminary reports, 12 people died in Bharatpur, four in Alwar, six in Dholpur and one each in Jhunjhunu and Bikaner.

Authorities said they have been shocked by the ferocity of the storms.

Family members of those dead will get Rs 4 lakhs as compensation, and those injured will get between Rs 60,000 and Rs 2 lakhs.

Uttar Pradesh's regional Met office also warned of a second spell of dust storm in many districts of Uttar Pradesh, following which an alert has been sounded by the government.

And residents are bracing for another storm that's predicted to strike in a few days: The Indian Express reported early Thursday that Indian Meteorological Department scientist Himanshu Sharma warned another round of unsafe weather is likely to strike the area.

Weather department officials in New Delhi said the storm was caused by a collision of rival eastern and western weather systems over the humid northern plains. The Chief Minister has directed officers concerned to personally monitor relief operations and provide all necessary medical facilities to the affected.

Major destruction was reported from Alwar district, where trees fell and power cables snapped, plunging a number of areas into darkness.

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