India puts 13 states on high storm alert for next 48 hours

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NEW DELHI, May 7, 2018 (BSS/Xinhua) – India has put as many as 13 of its
states and two central government-territories on high storm alert for the
next 48 hours.

In an advisory, the Indian Home Ministry has said that thunderstorms and
rains are likely to occur in these 13 states and two central government-
controlled territories Monday and Tuesday, asking the respective governments
to take all necessary precautions.

The alert, citing a weather department prediction, comes after rains,
thunderstorms, dust storms and lightning claimed the lives of over 125 people
in five states in India last week.

According to the weather department, heavy rains are likely in six
northeastern states — Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and
Tripura Monday. It has predicted thunderstorm and hailstorm in the northern
states of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab too.

Similarly thunderstorm and squall are likely to hit the northern Indian
states of Haryana, the central government-controlled Chandigarh and the
Indian capital Monday.

“Dust storms are likely in Haryana and neighboring state of Rajasthan. As
a result of which, all schools in Haryana have been asked to keep shut Monday
and Tuesday. The step is to prevent any untoward situation and keep children
safe,” an official said.

Parents in Delhi say that the local government should take a cue from
Haryana.

“The Delhi government should have also ordered closure of schools like in
Haryana. It’s for the safety of our wards. But so far, we have not heard
anything from the government,” said Raj Rishi, a parent whose child studies
in Delhi Public School.

The other states put on alert include Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the
north, Bihar and West Bengal in the east, and Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and
Kerala in the south. These states are likely to be hit by thunderstorm and
gusty winds Tuesday, according to the weather department.

Last week, more than 125 people died and over 300 others injured in fierce
dust storms in northern and western India. The storm also brought down
electricity poles, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock in
five states, including Uttar Pradesh.

The district of Agra in Uttar Pradesh state, home to the iconic Taj Mahal
monument, was one of the areas worst hit. Many of those killed had been
asleep indoors when their houses caved in after being struck by lightning or
gusts of wind.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condoled the loss of lives.
“Saddened by the loss of lives due to dust storms in various parts of India.
Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” he
tweeted.

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