Lightning kills more than 100 in northern India

lightning in Calcutta, May 2020Image copyright


Lightning strikes are common in India during heavy monsoon rains.

More than 100 people in northern India have been killed by dozens of lightning strikes in two states in recent days, authorities say.

The disaster management team in Bihar state said 83 were killed there, while another 20 were in hospital with injuries.

At least 20 more people are reported to have died in neighboring Uttar Pradesh.

Lightning strikes are common in India during heavy monsoon rains.

Meanwhile, rain and thunderstorms have caused widespread damage to trees and property.

  • Lightning strikes the Indian state 37,000 times

Authorities have warned residents to be vigilant and to stay indoors as meteorologists forecast more bad weather.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said relief efforts were being made and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

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Media captionHelen Willetts explains why lightning strikes are so deadly in India

Bihar Minister of Disaster Management Lakshmeshwar Rai told AFP that this was one of the highest lightning tolls the state had recorded in recent years. More than half of the deaths occurred in the northern and eastern districts of the state, he said.

In Uttar Pradesh, most of the deaths occurred in the Deoria district, near the border with Nepal and the holy city of Prayagraj, authorities said.

More than 2,300 people were killed by lightning in India in 2018, according to the National Crime Records Office, and at least 2,000 people have died in the lightning strike each year since 2005.

One of the reasons cited for the large number of deaths is the large number of people who work outdoors in India compared to other parts of the world, making them more vulnerable.

In 2018, the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India recorded 36,749 lightning strikes in just 13 hours.

Safety tips when lightning strikes

  • Seek shelter inside a large building or car
  • Exit wide open spaces and stay away from exposed peaks
  • If you have nowhere to take shelter, make yourself as small a target as possible by squatting with your feet together, hands on knees and head tucked
  • Do not take shelter under tall or isolated trees.
  • If you are in the water, go to the shore and leave the open beaches as fast as possible

Source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.