The strongest dust storm to hit the Capital in more than a decade tore away trees, delayed flights, threw traffic out of gear and claimed six lives besides shrouding the city in a thick blanket of dust in the morning hours of Wednesday.
Police said two children who were playing outside and two office-goers were among those who died.
At 81 km per hour wind-speed, the squall started at 9.55 am and took office-goers by surprise. The morning sun was covered with dark clouds, bringing visibility down several notches and forcing vehicles to turn on their headlights. Uprooted trees and electric wires caused diversions on several routes. During this period, the city also witnessed 7.2 mm of rains.
Air traffic was the first to be hit by the storm. According to the Met department, the velocity at Palam airport was 104 km per hour — much more than that in the city. And the storm stayed longer too.
More than 12 flights were delayed and five of them had to be diverted due to the squall for 45 minutes at the IGI airport, officials said. Three flights each of Jet, Indian and Jetlite had to be diverted to Jaipur while two others had to be diverted to Nagpur and Lucknow. The condition returned to normal around 11 am.
“This was caused by cyclonic activities in Rajasthan,” the weatherman at the Safdarjung met department said. He predicted a cooler Thursday.