At least 35 were killed and more than 200 injured in different parts of Rajasthan as a high-speed dust storm on Wednesday night wreaked havoc in Bharatpur, Alwar and Dholpur districts and left a trail of destruction, uprooting hundreds of trees and electricity poles.
According to preliminary reports, 17 people were killed in Bharatpur, nine in Alwar, nine in Dholpur and one each in Jhunjhunu and Bikaner.
Rajsthan disaster and relief minister Gulab Chand Kataria has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of those who died.
The storm caused major destruction in Alwar 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.
“More than 1,000 electricity poles were uprooted in the storm, plunging the city in darkness. It will take us at least two days to restore supply,” said Alwar power distribution company executive engineer DP Singh.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted that she had directed ministers to monitor relief work in the affected districts and asked officials to restore utilities.
Raje announced that Kataria will monitor relief work in Alwar, social justice and empowerment minister Arun Chaturvedi in Dholpur; health minister Kalicharan Saraf in Bharatpur and mines minister Surendrapal Singh in Jhunjhunu.
The state government rushed the State Disaster Relief Force to affected districts and issued an alert.
Private schools in Alwar city are closed on Thursday.
By Thursday morning, electricity supply had been restored in Bhiwadi, Tapukda and Tijara. The power supply was also restored in the Alwar government hospital. A survey for damaged property has been ordered, Alwar district collector Rajan Vishal said.
Bharatpur divisional commissioner Subir Kumar said a compensation of Rs 50,000 from the Chief Minister Relief Fund will be given to the families of the deceased.
Meanwhile, All India Congress Committee general secretary and former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot cancelled his birthday celebrations, tweeting: “Very sad to know about 22 people have died and over 100 injured due to dust storms and strong winds in #Rajasthan.. We are extremely grieved at the loss of lives in state and stand with the victims in this hour of tragedy… I cancel all the celebration programs at my residence on today’s occasion. Blood donation camps and Janhit programs can be continued by the organisers.”