Three people died in Delhi-NCR during the squall and dust storm that lashed northwestern India on Sunday evening. With a wind speed of 109 kmph, the storm also disrupted Metro and flight services and brought traffic to a standstill. Incidents of trees, walls and electricity poles falling were also reported from several parts of the city.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the next two days will see light rain and thunderstorms, though not as strong. Before the squall, a Met department official said the maximum temperature in the city was 40.6 degrees Celsius — a notch above normal.
“There is a circulation of a western disturbance in northwest India. We had forecast that the weather will be adverse for two-three days. This thunderstorm will continue for the next 48-72 hours,” said Charan Singh, Scientist, IMD, on the weather change in Delhi. “Thunderstorms, accompanied by winds, are also very likely at isolated places over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, west UP, Bihar, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala,” said the IMD advisory.
Storm wreaks havoc
Delhi Police said a woman in Pandav Nagar died after a tree fell on her. In Greater Noida, a woman who was travelling on a bike along with her baby died after a hoarding fell on her, said police. In Jaitpur, a man identified as Manoj Jain died after cement sheets and bricks fell on top of him. He was rushed to the hospital but died en route, said police.
Police said another person, Rohit (19), was also injured in Jaitpur after a section of the roof fell on him, while a labourer was seriously injured in a wall collapse at Seelampur. A total of 18 people were injured, said police. Incidents of wall collapse were also reported from Najafgarh, Transit Camp, Nehru Place, Mohan Garden, and Raj Nagar in Palam. Police said several fire tenders were dispatched and that no injuries were reported from these areas. Meanwhile, at the Delhi Airport, passengers were stranded as at least 40 flights were diverted and over two dozen delayed. Vistara Airlines said its Srinagar-Delhi flight was diverted to Amritsar, while its Lucknow-Delhi flight was sent to Lucknow.
According to the chief meteorologist at the IGI Airport Met station, strong winds for such a prolonged time are unusual. “The airport was under prolonged severe weather between 4.30 pm and 7.30 pm. Forty-seven flights were diverted. Strong winds in the flight path reported by pilots while attempting to land were very unusual,” he said. Metro services were also affected on two lines for over an hour. According to officials, trains on the Violet Line were run in two loops (Sarita Vihar-Escorts Mujesar and Nehru Place- Kashmere Gate) from 5 pm to 5.40 pm after a “tree fell on the overhead line between Okhla and Jasola stations”.
On the Blue Line trains between Noida Sector 16 and Noida City Centre, “were not available from 5.15 pm due to damage to the OHE on down section (going towards Noida)”. “Services between Indraprashtha and Karol Bagh were also not available after a tree fell on the section between Rajiv Chowk and R K Ashram towards Dwarka,” said an official, adding that these were normalised by 7.37pm.
It wasn’t just Metro services that were impacted due to the storm. Police said until 7.30 pm, they received 189 calls regarding fallen trees, 40 regarding fallen poles while 31 reports came in of fallen tin sheds or roofs. Fallen trees combined with low visibility added to traffic snarls. Garima, a teacher, said, “I was stuck just before Rao Tula Ram flyover for almost an hour. This was around 5.30 pm. There was a little bit of waterlogging, but it led to utter chaos.”