Lightning, dust storm, rains kill 40 across India


New Delhi: Several people were killed across the country on May 13 as violent dust storms, followed by rain and lightning toppled walls and uprooted trees north, east and south India.

Eighteen people were killed in Uttar Pradesh. Eight died in Andhra Pradesh and three in Telangana, officials told NDTV.

According to reports, nine people were also killed in West Bengal and five in Delhi NCR due to the storm.

The weather office has said thunderstorms are expected across north-west India over the next 48 to 72 hours, as several weather phenomena, including western disturbances, converge.

The Met office has predicted thunderstorms accompanied by light rains for a huge swathe of northern India over the next two to three days. An orange category warning — which means the weather can significantly impact the lives of people — has been issued for the hilly areas in the north, the northeast and Odisha.

UP saw the highest number of deaths at 18. At least eight people were killed in Andhra Pradesh, mostly in the Srikakulam district. Three farmers died in Telangana, officials said.

Nine people, including four children, were killed in lighting and storms in south West Bengal, reports said. Five people were killed in the Delhi National Capital Region, including a woman who was killed in Greater Noida after a billboard fell on her while driving a scooter, also injuring her son.

“Saddened by the loss of lives due to storms in some parts of the country… asked officials to provide all possible assistance to those affected,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Flight operations at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport were put on hold for more than an hour in the evening. About 70 flights were diverted from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, a spokesperson said.

Delhi Metro services were hampered too. Thousands of commuters were stuck on the busy Blue Line, which links Dwarka in north-west Delhi to Noida and Vaishali in Uttar Pradesh, for almost 45 minutes. The trains were then slowed down as a precaution.

Around 5 in the evening, skies turned inky and visibility plummeted across the National Capital Region. A strong wind picked up, crashing through trees and turning the air a murky brown. The drizzle started soon after. The rains and storm brought down trees and tree branches in some areas of Delhi and led to traffic snarls.

Met office said the storm was a result of western disturbances over Jammu and Kashmir and cyclonic circulation over Haryana. An east-west trough from Haryana to Nagaland and easterly winds from Bay of Bengal are raising wind speed.

Last week, the met office predicted a huge storm across 13 states. Following the alert, schools in Delhi, Chandigarh and Haryana were shut and extra police forces and emergency services were put on standby. The promised storm, though, turned out to be far lower in intensity and the met office came under fire from people on social media for misleading prediction.

Earlier this month, a dust storm accompanied by rain had wreaked havoc across five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, killing more than 100 people, uprooting trees and flattening houses.

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