Scores dead as dust storm and heavy rain sweep through India

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Dust storm and heavy rain have swept through northern India, killing as many as 72 people and injuring over 100 others, in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh saw the highest fatalities with 36 people, including children, killed after the intense dust storm destroyed their homes on Wednesday, according to a Times of India report on Thursday.

Nine other fatalities in other parts of Uttar Pradesh were reported, while 38 others were injured.

Wind as strong as 126km per hour accompanied the dust storm, The Times reported.

The dust storm was followed by heavy rainfall of as much as 48.2mm within less than three hours on Wednesday evening.

“Dust storms  are common occurences in Rajasthan during the period before the monsoon rains,” according to Al Jazeera’s senior weather presenter, Richard Angwin.

“A large part of the Thar desert lies within the state. Here, dry, sandy soils are prone to wind erosion and transportation.”

According to The Hindu news site, hundreds of animals were also killed mostly in Agra.

In the state of Rajasthan, at least 27 people were reported dead and 100 others injured in three districts, according to the Times of India.

There were also reports of destruction of buildings and infrastructure, as well as uprooting of hundreds of trees.

Images posted online from both states showed thick brown dust hovering over communities and cities.

According to reports, state officials have discussed extending financial help for the victims and their families.

Meanwhile, the Business Standard reported at at least 15 flights, including at least two international aircraft, were diverted from Delhi airport due to the bad weather.

That latest weather disturbance may be the result of the extreme heat that the region has been experiencing in recent days, Al Jazeera’s Angwin said.

On Monday, a world record April temperature of 50.2C was recorded in Nawabshah in Pakistan’s Sindh province, just west of India’s Rajasthan. 

“Many other parts of Pakistan and northern India have been suffering the effects of extreme temperatures. It is therefore quite possible that the wind circulation induced by the heat low was more intense than normal,” Angwin explained. 

“A trough of low pressure may also have introduced moisture into the atmosphere, encouraging thunderstorms to develop.”

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