At least 97 people have been killed, while as many as 205 people were injured across different parts of northern and western India, including Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, due to a high-speed dust storm on Wednesday night. The storm wreaked havoc in several districts of UP and Rajasthan as people died under collapsed houses and due to the destruction of other structures. UP has recorded maximum casualties with the deaths of 64 people. At least 47 people were injured in the state. Rajasthan followed next with 33 deaths and injuries to around 100 people. Agra was the most-affected district in UP with 36 deaths and injuries to 35 people. Dholapur district in Rajasthan reported at least 17 deaths. Normal life was also thrown out of gear as uprooted trees and poles led to traffic snarls and power cuts. Experts suggest the dust storm occurred due to cyclonic conditions and wind pressure, which led to high intensity winds and squalls.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while expressing grief over the deaths due to dust storm, tweeted: "Saddened by the loss of lives due to dust storms in various parts of India. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon."
Here're the top five developments so far.
Rescue work on; states announce relief
According to officials, injured people are being taken to hospitals as the disaster management teams have been pressed into service. In UP, the Yogi Adiyanath government has announced Rs 4 lakh compensation to next of kin of the deceased, while Rs 50,000 to those injured. The Rajasthan government has announced Rs 4 lakh compensation to next of kin of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh to those with 60 per cent injuries and Rs 60,000 to people with 40 to 50 per cent injuries.
State leaders express grief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said officials have been asked to coordinate with the respective state governments and work towards assisting those affected in these incidents. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who's attending election rallies in Shivamogga, Karnataka, has reportedly ordered officials to monitor the situation and provide all necessary medical facilities to the injured people. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje expressed grief, and said the authorities concerned in the districts have been directed to ensure all possible help to victims. Rajasthan State Congress Chief Ashok Gehlot, said his party "stands with the victims in this hour of tragedy"; he cancelled all celebrations of his birthday today.
15 flights diverted from Delhi
Total 15 flights, including two international, were diverted from Delhi due to dust storm and bad weather in several parts of the country. The national capital witnessed 13.4mm rainfall as squall (wind speed of 59km per hour) lashed the city, the Met department said.
Another dust storm in next 2 days
According to the Met department, the consistent cyclonic formation could cause another dust storm in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in the next two days. "There is a high probability that winds will intensify in the next 48 hours in Rajasthan, which may lead to another dust storm. It will affect areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan border, especially Karauli and Dholpur," Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) scientist Himanshu Sharma told PTI.
What's dust storm, how it's formed?
Experts suggest the dust storms, though a natural phenomenon, mostly occur when strong winds carry loose dust particles. A major reason that dust storms have risen in recent years is people's neglect towards soil management, suggest experts. Dust storms, carrying dust particles from dry surfaces, bring a change in salt levels, and move from dry surface to see areas.