NEW DELHI: Indian authorities said yesterday at least 86 people have been killed and over 100 injured in a fresh wave of violent sandstorms and thunderstorms that battered vast swathes of the country. Winds of over 100 km per hour struck parts of north, east and southern India late Sunday, uprooting trees, electricity pylons and damaging houses, officials from federal and state disaster management agencies said.
The fatalities came just 10 days after a sandstorm left more than 134 dead – most of them in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal. Hail, wind and thunderstorms brought down walls, trees and power pylons in Uttar Pradesh state, killing 48 people, T P Gupta of the state disaster management department told AFP. Eight people also drowned in the state’s Barabanki district after their boat capsized in a river due to strong winds. Gupta said 80 people were injured by the gusts that flattened nearly 40 houses across India’s most populous state.
The country has been gripped by a freak weather system since the beginning of May, with many parts of the country experiencing extreme conditions. Similar storms hit the region every year but this year has been the deadliest in decades. In the eastern state of West Bengal 14 people were killed Sunday after lightning struck a house in the state capital Kolkata, including four children as thunderstorms separately ravaged several localities.
Lightning bolts killed 12 people in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, while two people died in both Bihar state and the Indian capital New Delhi. Indira Gandhi International Airport was closed for more than two hours because of the winds, with 70 flights diverted. Andhra Pradesh had also been hit by more than 40,000 lightning bolts on May 1, killing 14 people in a matter of hours. – AFP