Deadly Lightning in Next 48 Hours, Officials Warned
Lightning strikes killed 147 people in Bihar over the last 10 days, officials said on Sunday, warning of more extreme weather conditions to come, driven by climate change.
Around 215 people – farmers, labourers and cattle graziers – have died from strikes in the state since late March, the authorities said.
“I was informed by weather experts, scientists and officials that rising temperatures due to climate change is the main cause behind the increasing lightning strikes,” Bihar’s Disaster Management Minister Lakshmeshwar Rai said.
Twenty-five people died on Saturday, he said.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of more lightning in the next 48 hours.
Lightning strikes during the annual monsoon that runs from June to September are fairly common. But officials said this year number of deaths in Bihar has already surpassed the total number recorded annually for the state over the past few years, even though the monsoon season has just started.
Last year, 170 people were killed in lightning strikes during the monsoon period.
Bihar agrometeorologist Abdus Sattar said lightning and thunder was caused by large-scale instability in the atmosphere, fuelled by temperature rises and excessive moisture.
State authorities rolled out a mobile phone app they said helps predict possible lightning strikes. But many farmers do not own smartphones.
In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, just over 200 people have been struck and killed by lightning since April, according to officials.
More than 2,300 people were killed by lightning in 2018, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, the most recent figures available.