Lightning Kills 11 in India

March 10, 2006

BHOPAL, India (Reuters) — Lightning strikes have killed 11 people and injured eight in the past 24 hours in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The state has been hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorms, officials report on Friday.

The latest deaths, including a 10-year-old girl, brought the death toll due to bad weather to at least 35 since March 1.

More than 100 people have been injured and thousands of hectares of mustard, lentil and wheat crop have been damaged.

"As per preliminary reports, 720 villages in 30 districts have been affected by the unseasonal rains and hailstorms, and crops in 78,700 acres of land has been lost," the state's Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, told reporters.

Six policemen were hurt when strong winds uprooted their tents, pelting them with hail in western Madhya Pradesh overnight. Strong winds have ripped out scores of trees.

Rain and hailstorms have lashed India's key wheat-growing regions for the past two days and traders fear it may hit the country's output for grain.