Lightning kills 83 people in Bihar

Many of the victims were farmers, who were sowing paddy in their fields
13 farmers were killed in Gopalganj while 5 died in Siwan due to lightning. Photo:
13 farmers were killed in Gopalganj while 5 died in Siwan due to lightning. Photo:

At least 83 people were killed and over three dozen injured in incidents of lightning strikes across Bihar on June 25, 2020, according to the state government.

Bihar’s Minister for Disaster Management, Lakhmeshwar Rai confirmed to this reporter that 83 people had lost their lives due to lightning in the state.

It is the biggest-ever casualty in a day due to lightning in recent years, Rai said. “The government has directed the officials concerned to provide medical treatment to all injured,” Rai said.

He hinted that the death toll was likely to increase by late night as reports from remote areas reached the state capital.

An official at the control room of the disaster management department said on June 26 that the official death toll due to lightning had risen to 92.

More than half of the total deaths due to lightning were reported from the northern and eastern districts of Bihar, according to officials of the disaster management department.

Of 83 deaths, 23 occurred in northern Bihar, 22 in eastern Bihar and the remaining in other parts of the state.

Thirteen people, most of them farmers busy in paddy sowing activities, were killed by lightning in Gopalganj district alone while five deaths occurred in neighbouring Siwan district. In Siwan too, the victims were farmers working their fields.

As heavy rainfall continues in northern and central Bihar, the change in moisture level in the atmosphere has resulted in thundering and lightning, Abdus Sattar, an agro-meteorologist at the Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University in Samastipur district, said.

“But the deaths of such a large number of people due to lightning strikes in a single day is unprecedented. It was not expected,” Sattar added.

Six people were killed by lightning in Bihar last week, whereas in early June, over 20 people were killed in the state due to the same reason.

The weather department has issued an alert for heavy rainfall across Bihar on June 26 and 27. Ten districts of northern and north-eastern Bihar including Araria and Kishanganj are on red alert, while 13 districts are on orange alert, according to SK Patel, an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The IMD issues alerts that are colour coded from green to red. An oranger alert means there are chances of heavy to very heavy rainfall. It means the administration must be prepared for anything.

Water levels are rising in the Kosi, Mahananda, Ganga and other rivers due to heavy rains in their catchment areas since last week.

The southwest monsoon reached Bihar on schedule on June 13 and has been active since then. The state has received more than normal rainfall in the last two weeks.

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