Why does lightning wreak havoc in India?

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lightning strikes are on the rise around the world, but why are deaths so high in India, and what are some government measures that can reduce the death toll?

Harisuddin, a 44-year-old resident of the northeastern Indian state of Assam, was drizzling when he left his home to go to a nearby lake to catch fish. His 55-year-old relative Nasbati Muslimuddin Sikandar says his family was totally dependent on fishing and selling their fish, so he had to go to work on days when the rains were heavier than on September 9.

Speaking to The Independent, Alexander says: "Harris was alone on the boat when the lightning struck. As soon as the lightning struck, the boat capsized and fell into the lake. A relative who was watching the scene made a noise. "We immediately went down to the lake to look for them. At first, we thought he was alive, so we rushed him to the hospital, but the doctor pronounced him dead.

 His whole body was burnt on the left side. Harris, the sole breadwinner of the family, left behind four daughters, a son, a wife, and his 80-year-old mother.

 Ata-ur-Rehman, another relative of Harris, says: "We were not warned of the danger of lightning that day, but have we ever had any warning about lightning?" Found. '

Despite losing another family member and many friends in his village in lightning strikes in the recent past, Rehman said locals do not know what to do when lightning strikes.

Although lightning strikes all over the world, India and other developing economies in South Asia are at greater risk of being killed by lightning than other countries. One reason for this is people living in open fields with crops and livestock, but also poor knowledge and lack of knowledge about the dangers of lightning.

Colonel Sanjay Srivastava, a former soldier, and convener of the Lightning Resilient India Campaign in India, says, "The first thing to avoid the danger of lightning is to avoid going out in the open, but if you already If you are outside and there is no shelter nearby during lightning strikes, look for shelter from small, tall trees in a low-lying area. However, avoid standing too close to them.

"Avoid isolated tall objects, such as tall trees and flag-waving bamboos, because lightning does not always hit, but often targets the tallest object in the relevant space," he explains.

According to the campaign's annual report, 1,697 people were killed by lightning during 2020-20. Although the number has come down from 1,771 deaths recorded in the last financial year, India still has the highest proportion of lightning deaths compared to other natural disasters.

Evidence is growing that lightning strikes are on the rise in India and around the world due to climate change. Warmer weather results in more severe weather effects, such as thunderstorms, and a one-degree rise in temperature increases lightning by 12 percent, according to a 2015 study published by the University of California.

Another study published in the Geophysical Research Letters in March 2021 pointed out a strong link between climate change and increasing lightning at the North Pole. The number of lightning strikes in the region was recorded at 18,000 in 2010, up from 1.5 million a decade later. Temperatures in the region rose 0.3 Celsius during the period.

There are simple guidelines for how to protect yourself during thunderstorms, but experts say the message is not reaching those who need it most. "A lot of people are dying because they don't know what to do," says Gopa Kumar, program director at the Lighting Awareness Research Center (LARC) in Troy Vananthapuram. They do not go to a safe haven and most of them do not even know what a safe haven is. When lightning strikes, they are standing under a tree or working in the fields.

Kumar laments that despite the high death rate, India's central government does not count lightning as a natural disaster, which is an obstacle to regular funding and attention to prevent casualties. These casualties could be reduced if resources were expended to predict the storm and report it too unsafe people in a timely manner. "If the central government declares it a natural disaster, it will pave the way for more awareness, better strategies, and co-operation," he said.

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