A TOTAL of 32 people including nine children were killed by lightning strikes during storms at the weekend in India.
The deadly strikes were in the eastern states of Bihar and Jharkhand.
Bihar state disaster management minister Renu Kumari Kushwaha said: “About 24 people including seven children were killed Saturday and Sunday by bolts of lightning across Bihar.’
In neighbouring Jharkhand, eight people including two children died, Puran Mahto, an official in the state’s Dhanbad district said.
Lightning strikes on Sunday also killed 22 people, mostly farm labourers working in fields, across the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, officials said yesterday.
The fatalities occurred in the evening when thunderstorms and rain lashed eight districts in Andhra Pradesh, said Chandrababu Naidu, the state’s chief minister.
Two women’s cricket teams had a narrow escape when lightning struck a tree on the grounds where they were playing in Guntur town, a district cricket official.
He added: “It was a miraculous escape for the players and the people at the grounds.”
He said a tree caught fire after it was hit by a lightning bolt, and the deafening sound that followed led players and spectators to flee the grounds in panic.
Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
Weather officials in the Andhra Pradesh state capital of Hyderabad said a low pressure system over the Bay of Bengal led to heavy downpours at the weekend.
India receives 80 per cent of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season.
Last June, 27 people were killed in Bihar following lightning strikes and more than two dozen sustained serious burn injuries. Nalanda and Aurangabad districts reported six deaths each, Rohtas four, Shekhpura and Nawada three each, and Gaya and Bhojpur two each. One death was reported in Kaimur.
In 2009, at least 35 people including eight children were killed after they were struck by lightning in the adjoining eastern Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand.
The chances of being struck by lighting once in a given year are around one in 700,000. Only around 10 per cent of people who are struck by lightning die, usually because the bolt of electricity causes their heart and breathing to stop.
Those who survive tend to wake up from the shock within a few seconds but have little recollection of what happened before the injury. They could suffer minor burns and stroke-like symptoms.