Strong winds damage portions of Taj, kill eight in 2 districts

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Saturday inspected the damage and said the main structure was intact.

A red sandstone railing, marble tiles and other parts of the Taj Mahal suffered minor damage after a thunderstorm, with winds gusting up to 130 km/hr, barrelled through Agra on Friday night. Three people in the district were also killed in thunderstorm-related incidents. They have been identified as Kailashi from Doki area, Ram Shankar from Fateheabad and a child from Nagla Karan Singh.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Saturday inspected the damage and said the main structure was intact. The Unesco World Heritage Site has been closed for visitors for around two months in view of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“The ASI team assessed the damage today. We found that there was no damage to the main structure. On the backside of the Taj mausoleum, a part of the railing broke and some marble tiles also gave way. Besides that, the main door on the western side tilted due to the impact. The tourist section that is outside the Taj Mahal complex was also damaged. The repair work will begin soon,” said Vasant Swarankar, Superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India.

According to the ASI, most of the damage has been limited to the modern structure, which includes the tourist holding area, and frisking and checking area. The pivot stone beneath the West Gate also broke due to strong, an ASI official said. The railing, a part of which was damaged, is in the posterior of the mausoleum and approximately 12 metres from the ground and 1 metre in height, the official said.

ASI officials stated that the repair and reconstruction, estimated to cost Rs 20 lakh, could take up to one month as marble had to be brought from Rajasthan. They said that repairs could take even less time if labourers were easily available.

Strong winds barrelled through rural parts in the district, leaving damaged house and uprooted trees behind.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday expressed grief over the death of three people and announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased. A report on the damage was sent to the CM office.

Five die in Kannauj

At least five people have died due to thunderstorm and lightning in various parts of Kannauj district, officials said on Saturday. Additional District Magistrate Gajendra Kumar said a 45-year-old driver of a pick-up vehicle died when the roof of a gas service godown collapsed in Chhatarpur village around 3 pm on Saturday. Dinesh Pal (30) of Sursa village died in a wall collapse following rains and thunderstorm while an 80-year-old a resident of Bhiknipurwa died at the courtyard of his house due to a sudden hailstorm, the ADM said. The fourth death was reported from Tijlapur village, when a trolley fell on an eight-year-old boy owing to high-speed wind, the officer said, adding the fifth death was that of a youth in Ramaipur when a tree fell on him.

Officials have been directed to provide Rs 4 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased.

Source: The Indian Express

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