Freak Storm Sweeps Through Northern India, Killing Dozens

By Scott Neuman NPR

Updated at 4:45 a.m. ET

Dozens of people are dead and scores injured after a violent rain-and-dust storm swept through multiple states in northwestern India Wednesday, knocking down homes and leaving uprooted trees and power outages in its wake.

The storm, which struck weeks before the onset of the monsoon rains, caught many people by surprise.

Reported death tolls from the sudden storm — which packed powerful winds as it blanketed mainly the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand — varied widely: The Hindustan Times reported at least 75 dead, Press Trust of India said 45 people had been killed, while The Hindu and The Asian Age put the figure much lower, though both newspapers acknowledged the toll was likely to rise.

Reports on the number of injured also ranged from a few dozen to more than 100.

In the capital, New Delhi, there was less damage, but the storm also caused choking dust and rain there.

Bharatpur, Rajasthan and Agra, home of the famed Taj Mahal in western Uttar Pradesh were hardest hit, with scores of people dead, according to The Hindustan Times.

Most of the deaths occurred when houses collapsed on their occupants in the heavy winds, the newspaper says.

The Asian Age says major damage also occurred in Alwar, about 90 miles northwest of Agra, “where more than 100 trees were uprooted, many of which fell on stationary vehicles and snapped electricity cables. The power distribution company switched off electricity to prevent further damage.”

In Rajasthan, “relief and rescue teams have been pressed into service amid fears that the death toll may rise,” according to The Hindu.

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