LUCKNOW: A severe dust storm and lightning in various parts of Uttar Pradesh claimed at least 26 lives and left 57 people injured as houses and walls collapsed and trees were uprooted, prompting authorities to launch large-scale relief operations on Friday.
Mainpuri district bore the worst brunt of the vagaries of nature late on Thursday night as six people died there in separate cases of wall collapse and lightning, the state relief commissioner said.
Forty-one people were injured in the district and uprooted trees blocked vehicular movement on the state highways, leading to massive jams for a considerable amount of time.
Police said most of the injuries occurred when people sleeping inside their mud houses were caught unawares by the thunderstorm, which was accompanied by rain, leading to wall collapse.
People were also injured when signboards and hoardings got snapped at several places, and fell on them, the police said.
"While six people died in Mainpuri, three each died in Etah and Kasganj, two each in Farrukhabad and Barabanki, and one each in Moradabad, Badaun, Pilibhit, Mathura, Kannauj, Sambhal, Ghaziabad, Amroha, Badaun and Mahoba in incidents related to dust storm and lightning," data released by the state relief commissioner said.
An official press note said different parts of the state witnessed dust storms late on Thursday evening, resulting in wall collapse and uprooting of trees.
Thirty-one cattle died and 16 houses were also damaged in the incidents, officials said.
Massive power cuts were reported from various parts of the state, including Lucknow, as electricity lines got snapped in the gale.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials to take all necessary measures to provide relief to the affected people.
"He (Adityanath) has directed ministers in charge of the districts concerned to oversee relief operations," Awanish Awasthi, principal secretary, information, said.
A financial assistance Rs 4 lakh has been announced by the chief minister for the family of the deceased.
The district magistrates have been asked to monitor the situation, government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma said.
Earlier, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati demanded that the state government should come forward with adequate relief and compensation to the victims.