Rain, thunderstorm leave over 50 dead in four States

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Unseasonal storm damages crops in Gujarat, Rajasthan

Over 50 people were killed as rain, coupled with thunderstorm and lightning, hit several parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra overnight, officials said on Wednesday.

The unseasonal rain and storm also caused damage to property and crops in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Rajasthan witnessed the maximum of 25 deaths, some of them in house collapse, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 15. While 10 people were killed in Gujarat, three were killed in Maharashtra.

Nath targets Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter in the morning to express anguish over the loss of lives in Gujarat and to announce relief.

Soon after, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath accused the Prime Minister of being concerned only with his home State Gujarat.

In a tweet later, the PMO said, “PM @narendramodi has expressed grief at loss of lives due to unseasonal rains and storms in MP, Rajasthan, Manipur & various parts of the country.”

“An ex gratia of ₹2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to unseasonal rain & storms in MP, Rajasthan, Manipur & various parts of the country has been approved from the PM’s National Relief Fund. ₹50,000 each for the injured has also been approved,” the PMO said.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government was monitoring the situation in the affected areas.

Rajasthan Disaster Management Minister Master Bhanwar Lal Meghwal said 25 people died in the State. The State announced ₹4 lakh in compensation each to the bereaved families.

Another official said crops were damaged, and an assessment was being carried out. Several heads of cattle were also killed.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot directed officials to carry out a survey of losses. “Farmers have suffered losses… I asked the Chief Secretary yesterday [Tuesday] to get the survey of losses conducted immediately so that compensation could be given on time,” he said on Wednesday. Relief Secretary Ashutosh A.T. Pednekar said 21 of the deaths occurred in Jhalawar, Udaipur and Jaipur (four each), Jalore and Bundi (two each), and Baran, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Alwar and Hanumangarh (one each).

The unseasonal rain was part of a western disturbance — a storm that originates in the Mediterranean and brings unseasonal rain to north and northwestern India, according to the India Meteorological Department.

On April 15, the IMD had warned that the western disturbance would be whetted by a surge of moisture from the Arabian Sea as well as from Bay of Bengal and would confluence over India bringing rain to several parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. “The prevailing high temperature in Gujarat has attracted some of this moisture and caused the lightning and thunderstorm. We had issued alerts to district officials through our state meteorological centres,” said IMD Director-General K.J. Ramesh.

The IMD expects rain in parts of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal & Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram & Tripura, Telangana, Rayalaseema, South Interior Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Thursday, according to a press release.

The unseasonal rain and hailstorms have hit Gujarat’s mango growers hard. The State is one of the country’s top mango producers, especially of the Kesar variety. “There has been major damage due to the storms, but we are still assessing the losses. It will take one or two days to get an accurate picture,” says S. Insram Ali, president of the Mango Growers Association of India.

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