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Unseasonal rain kills seven across India; damages crops
Monday March 30, 2015 10:37 PM, IANS

The fury of unseasonal rain in different states of north and east India since Sunday evening has left at least seven people dead and damaged standing crops in thousands of hectares, officials said on Monday.

In Bihar, at least five people, including two children and a woman, were killed on Monday when they were struck by lightning in two separate incidents, officials said.

Three deaths - of the children and the woman - were reported from two villages in Munger district, while the other two people were killed in Ramnagri Diyara under Barh in Patna district.

Heavy rains, accompanied by strong winds, uprooted trees, damaged houses and brought down power cables across the state.

Weather department officials said that the rainfall was unseasonal.

In Uttar Pradesh, at least two people were killed in lightning strikes in Agra district and two others were reportedly electrocuted in Firoazabad and Agra districts as the widespread rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, flattened standing crops.

Two people died when struck by lightning in Serab village late Sunday evening. Three others sustained burns, and were admitted to hospital.

In Firozabad, farmer Hari Singh reportedly died of shock but police attributed his death due to tension at home. Another farmer, Raghuvir, collapsed and died on Sunday morning, unable to bear the loss to his standing crop in Bajna village.

The weather changed abruptly in western Uttar Pradesh on Sunday evening as unseasonal rain, accompanied by lightning and thunder, lashed the region.

Earlier in March, the area had received more than 80 mm of rainfall, which caused considerable damage to crops.

In Punjab and Haryana, the food grain states, rainfall and high velocity winds damaged more standing crops in various parts in the past 24 hours, officials said in Chandigarh on Monday.

Many parts of Punjab were lashed by high velocity winds and sharp rain.

"The standing wheat crop, which would have been harvested in mid-April, has been flattened by the rain and strong winds. The rainfall will lead to higher moisture content in the grains," Balbir Singh, a farmer near Kharar town in Punjab, 30 km from Chandigarh, told IANS.

At some places in Punjab and Haryana, trees were uprooted and branches snapped due to the strong winds.

Following rain, the maximum temperature dipped at most places on Sunday by two to four degrees Celsius. Chandigarh and its surrounding areas were lashed by moderate to heavy rain accompanied by strong winds.

A central team headed by union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan will visit Chandigarh on Tuesday to assess the damage to crops in the region, said a spokesman of the agriculture department.

The team will interact with ministers and senior officers of revenue and disaster management, power, development and panchayats, agriculture, cooperation, animal husbandry and dairying, food and supplies, irrigation and other departments.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Monday that the state government has already ordered special 'girdawri' (field assessment) to assess the crop loss of farmers due to the freak weather.

He said the state government has also sought Rs.500 crore interim relief from the Centre to compensate farmers for their losses.

In Himachal Pradesh, various areas were lashed by thundershowers while the upper reaches experienced snow on Monday, causing the temperatures to drop sharply.

Shimla, which recorded a low of 8.2 degrees Celsius, experienced rain and hailstorm.

The majestic Dhauladhar ranges near Dharamsala wore a fresh blanket of snow, as did the nearby hills of picturesque tourist resort Manali.

"High-altitude areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba, Kullu, Kinnaur, Sirmaur and Shimla districts have experienced moderate snow," a Met official said.

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