Monsoon showers over the past two days brought great cheer and relief to people in many parts of north India. But the joy was overwhelmed by gloom as over a hundred people were killed by lightning, most of them in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Unofficial figures put the toll at 112 while 79 deaths were officially confirmed. Officials admit the toll could be higher as many deaths were yet to be reported from remote areas.Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “deeply anguished” by the loss of life.
Lightning strikes killed 56 people including two children in various parts of Bihar on Tuesday evening. About 42 persons were reportedly killed by lightning in Uttar Pradesh, too.
Lightning strikes are common in India during monsoons from June to September. However, the recent toll is unusually high. Lightning has killed at least 2,000 people in India every year since 2005, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Bihar Principal Secretary of disaster management Vyas Ji told reporters that four people died and eight persons were injured in lightning strikes late on Tuesday evening in Patna. Deaths due to lightning were reported from Dumri, Bindol and Roniya villages in Patna.
Saharsa, Purnia, and Katihar districts of the state reported 10 deaths due to lightning. While two children died in Samastipur, three persons were killed in Chhapra. The storm before rains ravaged several homes in Arrah killed two persons.
Five persons including a girl student were killed and eight others were injured due to lightning strikes in Rohtas district of Bihar. Eight persons suffered severe injuries in Kaimoor district. While four persons died in Aurangabad, two persons each were reportedly killed in lightning in Nalanda and Buxar region.
The met department has forecast incessant rains to continue in several parts of Bihar.
Ten people were killed by lightning in neighbouring Jharkhand.
In Uttar Pradesh, six people were killed and four injured after being hit by lightning in different parts of Ghazipur district on Tuesday.
Three people were killed and at least 50 injured when lightning struck Assam’s Cachar district on Wednesday. Most of the victims are farm labourers who take shelter under isolated trees during a thunderstorm.