Pre-monsoon storms take heavy toll in eastern India

BHUBANESWAR • Summer thunderstorms in the run-up to the monsoon season have killed at least 29 people and injured many more in India's eastern state of Bihar, officials said.

At least five people are reported to have died when their houses collapsed, and hundreds of huts were destroyed and trees uprooted in eight of the state's 38 districts during storms that raged for several hours on Sunday, Mr Anirudh Kumar, Bihar's senior disaster management official, said.

Several of those killed by lightning strikes were caught in the open or had ignored warnings to stay clear of electricity transmission lines.

Warnings were given on Monday to avoid danger.

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"Six additional casualties occurred because people left their homes for work despite warnings," Mr Jumar told news broadcaster Al Jazeera.

The victims were mainly farmers and homeless people, he added.

Mr Kumar said that the fierce winds and uprooted trees damaged about 250 homes in the 10 districts of Bihar, according to a preliminary assessment.

Meanwhile, NDTV reported on Monday that the sunstroke toll in the state had climbed to 12 even as rains triggered by a depression over the Bay of Bengal and a nor'wester in some areas brought respite from scorching heat.

Monsoon rains arrived on India's southern coast yesterday, a weather office source said, making it the earliest since 2011 and setting India up for higher farm output and robust economic growth.

In May, Mr K. J. Ramesh, director-general of the Meteorological Department, warned that the country looked likely to receive higher monsoon rainfall than previously forecast as concern over the El Nino weather condition had eased.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Pre-monsoon storms take heavy toll in eastern India'. Print Edition | Subscribe