Pre-monsoon showers leave 48 dead in northern India

Pre-monsoon thunderstorms and lightning strikes have killed 48 people since Monday in northern India.

Sixteen died in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

“The causes of death were lightning, falling of walls and trees. There’s no cause for alarm at the moment as injured people are being taken care of. The families of the people who passed away due to the storm have been compensated with 400,000 rupees ($5,899) per death,” TP Gupta, project manager at the state’s Relief Commissioner’s Office, told CNN.

He added that storms have caused 200 deaths across April and May.

Advisories have been issued in a bid to keep residents safe, especially those in rural areas who are most affected. Workshops have also been held to share safety tips.

In neighboring Bihar state, 19 people in rural areas lost their lives. Eleven died because of lightning strikes and eight as a result of strong winds, Pratyaya Amrit, principal secretary for the state’s Disaster Management Department, told CNN.

He added that the “situation was critical.”

The Disaster Management Department of Bihar is issuing alerts to vulnerable areas in the state via district magistrates and local television channels.

In Jharkhand, a state south of Bihar, 13 people died, according to Anil Kumar, under secretary at the Home Department.

The annual monsoon arrived in India on Tuesday, hitting the country’s southern coast three days ahead of schedule, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

The rains will gradually move north and take more than a month to cover the entire country.

India is likely to receive average monsoon rains this year, the IMD said in a statement.

Rain is crucial to India’s economy

India is considered the only major economy in the world that is so dependent on weather.

About 18% of its $2.1 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) comes from agriculture.

Most of that agriculture depends on the June-to-September monsoon, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the country’s annual rainfall.

The monsoon rains are vital for the country’s economy because 63% of India’s farmlands are not connected to irrigation.