93 die in UP, Rajasthan due to storm, lightning
Lucknow/Jaipur : At least 93 people died in dust storm and lightning strikes that hit several parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan overnight, officials said on Thursday.
While 62 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh -- with 43 of them in the Taj city Agra alone -- another 31 died in Rajasthan's Alwar, Dholpur and Bharatpur districts, officials said. Around 150 people were also injured in the two states.
Officials told IANS that the death toll could go up as full information on the extent of the tragedy was still pouring in.
Of the casualties, many were caused by lightning, which struck at many places after the dust storm settled down. Rains also lashed many places.
In Uttar Pradesh, besides the 43 deaths from Agra, three people died each in Bijnore and Kanpur Dehat (rural) and one each in Bareilly, Pilibhit, Chitrakoot, Rae Bareli, Unnao, Mathura, Amroha, Kannauj, Banda, Kanpur city, Sitapur, Sambhal and Mirzapur.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is campaigning for the BJP in Karnataka, has told officials to ensure rescue and relief work in the worst hit Agra, Bijnore, Bareilly, Unnao, Saharanpur, Pilibhit, Firozabad, Chitrakoot, Muzaffarnagar and Rae Bareli districts.
In Rajasthan, a powerful dust storm hit Alwar, Dholpur and Bharatpur districts, killing 31 people and injuring another 100.
The storm, with a wind speed of 100 km per hour, uprooted trees, severed telephone, power and water supply links and brought down houses, officials said.
State Disaster Management Minister Gulabchand Kataria called an emergency meeting and confirmed that 16 persons were killed in Bharatpur, 10 in Dhaulpur and five in Alwar.
For the first time in the state, a storm has been included under the category of natural disaster and funds to the tune of Rs 2.5 crore have been sanctioned for each district, Kataria said.
The exact level of damage in Alwar, Jhunjhunu and Bikaner was yet to be confirmed, said officials.
Bharatpur's Additional District Magistrate O.P. Jain told IANS: "We are making all efforts to ensure that the injured are given medical aid.
"We have prioritized restoration work so that drinking water and electricity get restored."
Dholpur Additional District Magistrate Harphool Yadav said 10 people in the district have lost their lives. "Quick response teams have been deployed since last night."
A senior official in Alwar said rescuers were still trying to reach out to people to know the exact level of damage. As phone connections have been severed, it was difficult to contact the interiors.
Yadav said that some 200 people were stuck in village Lebdapura Basedi after their houses were gutted in a fire.
Several electrical poles came down, disrupting power supply. The falling trees and electric poles caused the maximum accidents, leaving almost 100 people injured, Yadav said.
Both Bharatpur and Alwar were without power through the night.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje directed the officials on Thursday to help the injured. "Distressed after storm in Alwar, Bharatpur and Dholpur," she tweeted.
The Met department said the storm condition would continue till Saturday in Rajasthan.
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.
According to a letter from regional Met Director J.P. Gupta to the Relief Commissioner, thunderstorms accompanied by gutsy winds were very likely in Gorakhpur, Ballia, Mau, Ghazipur, Ambedkarnagar, Sant Kabeernagar, Basti, Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Siddharthnagar, Gonda, Balrampur, Sharawasti, Sitapur, Bahraich, Kheri, Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit, Rampur, Bareilly, Budayun, Aligarh, Etah, Mahamaya Nagar, Mathura, Noida, Bulandshahr, Moradabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore and Baghpat.
Massive rains were also expected in some places.
Gupta told IANS that there was no likelihood of the storm affecting the state capital, however.