Nineteen individuals, including seven kids, were killed in lightning hits in Rajasthan on Sunday. Among the deceased children, four were from the Kota district and three from Badi in the Dholpur district. The lingering deaths have been recorded from Amer on the outskirts of Jaipur. People had assembled at the Amer Fort Watchtower to enjoy the day’s pleasant weather when heavy lightning hit on Sunday evening. A sum of 17 people reportedly sustained injuries. They were saved by joint teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the police. The wounded have been driven to the Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur.
The Rajasthan government has ordered authorities involved to offer all kinds of assistance to the families of deceased and injured persons. District Collector Antar Singh reached Amer Fort to inspect the situation.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh each for the family members of those who died in lightning strikes. In addition, the Rajasthan CM has called an emergency meeting of the state’s disaster management department to take stock of accidents that occurred due to lightning strikes on Sunday. The conference is taking place in Jaipur at noon on Monday. Former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje also displayed condolences to those harmed by the lightning strikes on Sunday.
Eight persons were hit by lightning in Rajasthan as many areas in north India received drizzles on Sunday. After their house collapsed in a landslide, three persons, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed at a village in Uttarakhand. Heavy rains happened at many places in UP and Rajasthan, where seven kids and a man were killed after being hit by lightning. Six other children and a woman were injured.
In the south, incessant rain continued to batter parts of Kerala as the weatherman issued an orange alert for five northern districts of the state. The IMD also advised fishers not to venture into the Arabian Sea, predicting stormy weather and strong winds off the Gujarat coast along with heavy rains in some parts till July.
How Does Lightning Kill?
The US National Weather Service (NWS) states that people can be hit by lightning in different ways. First is the direct strike. Though it is not so obvious, it is probably the most deadly. A person struck undeviatingly by lightning becomes a part of the main lightning discharge channel. Most often, direct strikes happen to victims who are in open areas. The heat produced by the lightning can cause burns, but the amount of electricity that courses through the body is greater fear. Anyone outside near a lightning strike is potentially a victim of the ground current”. Since ground current can cover a large area, NWS says it is what “causes the most lightning deaths and injuries”. In these cases, after lightning hits a tree or any other object, much of the energy travels outwards from the strike in and along the ground surface. The lightning penetrates the body at the point nearest to the strike and then zips through the cardiovascular and nervous systems before exiting the body at the contact point farthest from the lightning. The greater the distance between contact points, the greater the potential for death or severe injury.
How Often Do Lightning Strikes Occur?
The Annual Lightning Report 2019-2020, for which the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) too contributed inputs, said that the maximum number of casualties was reported between July 25 and 31, 2019. That period also saw more than 4 lakh lightning strikes across India. In addition, the report notes that the north-eastern states and the Chota Nagpur Plateau region were lightning hotspots.
What To Do When Lightning Strikes Occur?
According to NWS, there is no safe location outdoors to shelter in when lightning occurs, and the best protection is to stay indoors. People should head indoors when they can hear the thunder, which means they are within striking distance of the lightning.