Powerful Storms Pound India, Killing at Least 80

weather.com and the Associated Press
Published: May 14, 2018

At least 80 people have died as powerful storms swept through northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand, officials said Monday. More storms are expected in the region this week.

Less than two weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat and approaching monsoon rains.

Many of the recent deaths occurred when wind and falling trees caused buildings to collapse, leaving people buried in the wreckage. In the town of Bareilly, the minaret of a mosque fell on a group of people taking shelter in the courtyard, killing eight people. In another town, one man was killed when he was hit by a billboard that had been blown loose.

The death toll increased to 80 after officials received updates from each of the states impacted by the storms, the Times of India reported.

"These storms are not unusual at this time of the year," said J.P. Gupta, the meteorological office director for Uttar Pradesh state. "But the wind speed this year is a bit abnormal."

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More storms are in the forecast for the northern part of the country this week. They will also spread into eastern and southern India. 

On Sunday, winds reached speeds up to 68 miles per hour, officials said. 

Trains and commuter rail lines were paused and dozens of flights were diverted from New Delhi's international airport as the storm blew into the city.

At least 51 people were killed in sprawling Uttar Pradesh state, India's most populous state with more than 210 million people, the Times of India reported, and 123 others were injured. A large swath of Uttar Pradesh was also without electricity overnight because of broken power lines.

Rajesh Sharma, a senior state official, estimated that more than 120 million people in the state had been affected in some way.

"Saddened by the loss of lives due to storms," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. "Condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured."

Though it's off to an early start this year, India's monsoon, or rainy season, is expected to be near average.


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