NEW DELHI: At least 77 people have died and more than 143 were injured in fierce dust storms and rainfall that hit the Indian states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The storms on Wednesday disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock.
Many of the dead were sleeping when their houses collapsed after being struck by intense bursts of lightning.
Dust storms are common in this part of India during summer but the loss of life on this scale is unusual.
The storms largely affected three districts in Rajasthan – Alwar, Bharatpur and Dholpur – where at least 29 people were killed. Officials say Alwar is worst affected. Schools in the district are closed.
The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, said officials were heading to affected areas to start relief work.
The state government has also announced that families of the dead will receive 400,000 rupees (about $6,000; £4,400) as compensation.
Forty-five people died in Uttar Pradesh, 36 of them in Agra district, which is home to the Taj Mahal monument. Officials believe the death toll could increase.
The storm also hit the capital Delhi, more than 100km (62 miles) away, along with heavy rains late on Wednesday evening.