Over 70 Killed As High-Intensity Dust Storm Hits UP, Rajasthan

LIVE UPDATES At least 72 people killed in deadly dust storm UP Rajasthan badly affected

Dust storms with high winds are common during the summer in northern and eastern India.

Thousands of people in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan had their homes destroyed by the freak storm, which was packing winds of up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour.

Dehradun: Four people, including a nine-year-old boy, were killed and eight others were injured in a dust storm in Uttarakhand on Wednesday evening.

Forty-three people died there as the wind speed touched 130kms/h, said Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar of Uttar Pradesh state. T Ravi Kant, the district divisional commissioner, explained to CNN, "Most of the deaths occurred after walls and roofs of houses collapsed in the middle of the night". As many as 51 people were injured.

The other affected districts include Bijnor, Bareli, Saharanpur, Pilibhit, Firozabad, Chitrakoot, Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Kanpur, Sitapur, Mirzapur, Sambhal, Banda, Kannauj, Rae Bareli and Unnao.

In Rajasthan, Bharatpur district was the worst affected with 19 killed.

"One critical patient from Dholpur was referred to Jaipur", Hemant Kumar Gera, Secretary, Disaster Management and Relief, said.

Officials said the death toll is likely to rise.

The storm damaged communities in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where more than 400 people were injured as thunder pierced the sky and visibility plummeted.

"Satellite imagery shows that a cluster of strong thunderstorms developed in northwest India and swept through northern parts of the country", said weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. It said that there will be light rain/thunderstorm/dust storm in Dholpur till Saturday, while in Alwar and Bharatpur it will be till Friday.

Pradesh state says a $6000 compensation will be given to families of the dead as officials say the were taken aback by the ferocity of the storms. "There is a forecast for more storms in the next 48 hours across the state, so people should be alert", he added. Rajasthan followed next with 33 deaths and injuries to around 100 people. Dholapur district in Rajasthan reported at least 17 deaths.

"The intensity of the storm was so high that trees were uprooted and fell on buildings flattening them".

98 people were killed and 160 were injured in sandstorms last night in northern India, authorities said.

Almost 200 others were injured as a massive dust storm last night, followed by thundershowers, snapped power lines and sent tin roofs and street hoardings flying in parts of eastern Rajasthan and the adjoining areas of Uttar Pradesh. "May the injured recover soon", the PMO tweeted, quoting Mr Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences and said officials are coordinating with governments to assist those affected.

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