LUCKNOW, India — A powerful dust storm and rain swept parts of north and western India overnight, causing house collapses, toppling trees and leaving at least 72 people dead and more than 100 injured, officials said Thursday.
The devastation was particularly severe on Wednesday night in Agra, the northern Indian city where the white marble Taj Mahal is located. Thirty-six people died there as the wind speed touched 80 miles per hour, said Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar of Uttar Pradesh state.
There was no damage to the monument.
The Press Trust of India news agency said at least 27 others died and another 100 were injured in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. Most deaths were caused by house collapses and lightning.
The rainstorm caught people by surprise as the monsoon season is still more than six weeks away.
Uprooted trees flattened mud huts of the poor, Kumar said. Electricity supply and telephone lines were snapped in parts of Uttar Pradesh state, Kumar said.