A heavy dust storm swept across several parts of western and northern India on Wednesday, killing at least 68 people and injuring hundreds in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand and leaving a trail of destruction, uprooting trees and disrupting power supply in Punjab and Haryana as well.
At least 42 people were killed in four districts of western Uttar Pradesh. 36 people were killed in Agra, three in Bijnore, two in Saharanpur and one in Bareilly, state government officials said.
Bharatpur suffered the maximum damage in Rajasthan in terms of loss to life as 12 people were killed in the district. Six people died in neighbouring Dholpur in the high-speed dust storm that started around 7pm and wreaked havoc for two hours.
Four deaths were reported from Alwar and one each from Jhunjhunu and Bikaner.
Most deaths occurred in house collapse due to the storm, officials in Rajasthan said.
Uttarakhand Disaster Mitigation & Management Centre (DMMC) said at least two people were killed in Kumaon and few more injured in other parts after rains and thunderstorm lashed the hill state on Wednesday night.
A squall and dust storm followed by heavy rain also lashed New Delhi on Wednesday evening and caused traffic snarls in some parts of the national capital.
Normal life was also hit in many places in Punjab and Haryana, including Chandigarh, on Wednesday after a high-velocity dust storm. Light to moderate rains also lashed many places.
At least 42 people were killed and dozens of others injured in thunderstorm and rains in four districts of western Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday night.
The state government officials said 36 people were killed in Agra, three in Bijnore, two in Saharanpur and one in Bareilly. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath directed the district magistrates of the four districts to carry out relief and rescue operations immediately.
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje condoled the deaths and said in a series of tweets that she has directed ministers and officials in the affected areas to begin relief work and restore utilities.
"An unfortunate incident, we have been working closely with local authorities to mitigate the situation," Raje tweeted.
"Shri Gulabchand Kataria ji shall be monitoring situation at Alwar, Shri Arun Chaturvedi ji in Dholpur; Shri Kalicharan Saraf in Bharatpur & Shri Surendrapal Singh ji in Jhunjhunu. The Govt. stands firmly with its people in this time," she added.
The storm left a trail of destruction and uprooted hundreds of trees and electricity poles.