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Deaths by lightning ring alarn

Over 3000 people killed in a decade

Published : 23 May 2024 11:14 PM | Updated : 23 May 2024 11:14 PM

Lightning deaths continue to rise alarmingly in the country every year, ringing alarm bells among the authorities concerned over this vagary of nature.

A sense of panic has gripped the people, mostly farmers and fishermen, as such incidents frequently take place for four months from March to June. 

Lightning killed at least 3,000 people in the last one decade while at least 98 people were killed in the last two and half months. 

Four people, including a woman and her son, died and another person was injured in separate lightning strikes in Narsingdi while two cousins died and four others were injured in Tangail on May 18.

Experts point out two reasons behind the increase in lightning strikes– one is the increasing impact of global warming and the other, the cutting down of tall trees in rural areas of Bangladesh.

Professor Zillur Rahman stressed the need for initiatives of the government for issuing forecasts to help people stay at safe places during lightning strikes.

“Developed countries issue such alerts to make people aware of lightning.  Such alerts can be issued in our country too through satellite,” Rahman, also chairman of the Department of Disaster Science and Climate Resilience, told Bangladesh Post.  “It is possible to issue forecast warning of lightning strikes 72-hour earlier. Like cyclones and other storms, if such alerts can be issued it helps people remain in safe places,” he added.

When asked why lightning strikes people, he said that lightning usually seeks high places. “People become victims during the time of lightning as they work in the fields where there are no high places,” he observed.

The haor region of the country is the most lightning-prone area.

Asked about other ways, he said that planting palm trees can be an option along with setting up lightning resistance devices.

“For growing palm trees, it takes enough time. Ultimately, it appears as a time consuming matter. Many countries are using lightning resistance devices. But, this is an expensive method,” he said. 

Experts say that incidents of lightning increase due to global warming and adverse impact of climate change. 

They fear that the country may experience more lighting because of this year’s severe heat wave that witnessed the longest duration covering all corners of Bangladesh. 

A recent report of the Save the Society and Thunderstorm Awareness Forum said at least 31 people were killed by lightning strikes in April, of whom 20 were male and 11 were female.

It also said that at least 43 people were killed by lightning from May 1 to May 8. Of them, 34 were male and nine were female. 

Gawher Nayeem Wahra, an expert of climate change and disaster management, sees lightning in a positive way. 

“Lightning is necessary for agriculture and fish production. Fish start releasing eggs after the lightning,” he told Bangladesh Post.

Lightning happens usually between March and June and it lingers about 45 minutes. Experts advised people not to go out during the time of dark cloud cover and not to remain in open spaces or high land. 

If anyone needs to go out during lightning, they need to wear rubber shoes.