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A series of lightning strikes across India kills 20 people

A series of lightning strikes in Bihar state in eastern India has killed 20 people in less than 24 hours as more extreme weather is expected in the coming days.

Forecasts show that thunderstorms are expected to continue in the northern part of the state until Thursday, according to the BBC. Deadly lightning from monsoon rains kills hundreds of people in India each year, with more than 3,000 dead in 2019, as reported by The Times of India. Deaths have been reported in 8 districts of Bihar.

Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, has called on citizens to follow state security procedures to avoid injury or death while pledging to compensate the families of the victims.

“Once in a while follow the advisory issued by the Disaster Management Department to be safe during lightning strikes. Stay indoors and safe in inclement weather,” Nitish said in a statement Tuesday. The experts noted that the state’s geographic location allows lightning to occur easily during monsoon storms.

The death toll is high due to extreme weather conditions in India, as many people work outdoors, both in rural and urban areas.
AFP via Getty Images
Bihar, India
In less than 24 hours, 20 people died in Bihar, India, following a series of lightning strikes.
Uttar Pradesh, India
Khushboo Bind, pictured above, was one of the victims of a June 25 lightning strike that killed seven people in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Kumar said each of the families of the victims in Bihar will receive compensation of 400,000 rupees, which is equivalent to $5,000. Earlier on July 24, the Chief Minister warned of the deadly potential of these storms and asked authorities to install lightning arresters in schools, hospitals and government buildings.

One of the major factors contributing to the increase in deaths from extreme weather in India is the high number of people working outdoors in both rural and urban areas.

Lightning has increased by 34%, with more than 18 million strikes occurring in India from April 2020 to March 2021, according to a study by the Climate Resilient Observing System Promotion Council.

The BBC notes that the increase in the number of lightning strikes in India is also illustrated by satellite data from 1995 to 2014.

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