Sandstorm and thundershowers wreak havoc in many Indian districts
Large parts of north western India currently experience abnormally strong dusty winds and thunderstorms. Last week, the powerful storms uprooted trees, damaged or destroyed many houses and brought electricity cables down. This year, these storms resulted in at least 100 deaths and left 200 injured.
During the summer months of April to June, sandstorms are quite common in India but this year there is an unusually high amount of damage and death.
"I haven't seen such a devastating storm in at least 25 years. Everyone was scared and running for cover as trees and homes were getting blown away.” (Shiva Lohia, hotel owner in Alwar)
Most victims were killed by falling trees and collapsed roofs and walls as many houses were built of mud or simple brick and mortar structures.
Authorities in the Indian states of Rajasthan Gujrat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, warned the people to stay indoors during the storms. More storms are expected in the coming days.
This time, also the Indian capital city of Delhi was hit by the storm. Delhi is more than 100km/62 miles from the most badly affected region. Many schools were closed. Road visibility is reduced to almost zero during a sand storm and locals are forced to take cover inside buildings. Air travel was affected by the sandstorm too and flights to and from Delhi airport were delayed.
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are states in northern India (see map to the right). While Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with 200 million people, Rajasthan is the largest state in India in size and slightly bigger than the US states of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina combined.
The capital city Delhi is one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world with 26 million people. In the northwestern region alone live as many people as in the USA, but the USA is three times bigger than India.
image: Times of India and BBC (map)