Workers on Friday rushed to restore electricity to scores of towns and villages in northern and western India where a powerful dust storm and thundershowers caused more than 100 deaths and injured another 200.
Winds blew up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour as the storm swept through Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan states on Wednesday night, demolishing hundreds of mud huts, uprooting trees and causing extensive damage to wheat and vegetable crops. It also killed scores of cattle and buffalo.
It also damaged electric poles and transformers, plunging parts of 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh state into darkness, state Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar said Friday.
Amid repair and relief work, India’s meteorological department warns another powerful dust storm would sweep parts of the two states this weekend.
At least 70 people were killed and another 83 injured by the storm in Uttar Pradesh state that sent tin roofs and advertising displays flying in 10 worst-hit districts, Kumar said.
The devastation was particularly severe in Agra, the city where the white marble Taj Mahal is located. Forty-three people died there, but there was no damage to the monument, Kumar said.
In neighbouring Rajasthan state, another 36 people died and 150 were injured. Many of the dead were sleeping when their houses collapsed after being struck by lightning or gusts of wind.
The Press Trust of India news agency said the storm triggered traffic snarls and delayed some trains in Rajasthan state as overhead power lines snapped.
The rainstorm caught people by surprise as the monsoon season is still more than six weeks away.