Storms in India kill at least 35, disrupt election rallies

NEW DELHI • Thunderstorms swept across western India, killing at least 35 people and leaving widespread damage, officials said yesterday.

Strong winds barrelled through Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states, felling walls, trees and electricity lines. The storms have also been blamed for at least 25 deaths in Pakistan this week.

At least 10 people were killed in the desert state of Rajasthan, where a wall of dust swept over several cities.

Another 10 were killed in neighbouring Gujarat and 15 in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, state emergency services told Agence France-Presse.

Officials said victims were hit by lightning, falling trees or electrocuted by power lines.

Strong winds and sudden rain also hit the capital, New Delhi, bringing searing summer temperatures down by 10 deg C.

The storms forced the cancellation of several political rallies as India's national election gathers pace.

The wind blew away a tent that was to be used for a rally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Himmatnagar in Gujarat.

More than 125 people were killed in a wave of storms that battered northern Indian states in May last year. Lightning kills thousands in India every year, mostly farmers working in fields.

Expressing condolences over the deaths, Mr Modi announced compensation for those affected.

"(The) authorities are monitoring the situation very closely. All possible assistance is being given to those affected," he tweeted.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2019, with the headline 'Storms in India kill at least 35, disrupt election rallies'. Print Edition | Subscribe