Winds, rain and lightning kill 38 in India

PATNA: Strong winds, rain and lightning killed at least 38 people this week in India, including four members of a family who were crushed when a tall minaret at a mosque collapsed on their home, officials said Wednesday.

State official Pallavi Mishra said three other people were injured when the 30-meter (100-foot) minaret fell on their home in a village in Lakhimpur Kheri in northern Uttar Pradesh state on Tuesday night.

Winds blowing at about 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour demolished mud homes and knocked over trees and electric poles.

Officials said 19 people died in Uttar Pradesh and the same number in eastern Bihar state.

North India has been hit repeatedly by strong winds and rain this month, including one storm that killed 134 people and another that killed 43, officials said. The fatalities occurred as blistering summer heat prepares to give way to annual monsoon rains.

The southwest monsoon arrived in Kerala at the southern tip of India on Tuesday, starting the crop-planting season in a four-month journey from the south to northern India.

Powerful rains also hit the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi for a third straight day in the southern state of Karnataka, flooding roads and homes in low-lying areas.

The Press Trust of India news agency said Mangalore city was hit badly, forcing authorities to close schools and residents to use boats in some areas.

About 130 buildings were partially or fully damaged by heavy rains in Udupi, PTI said.