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Deaths from lightning increase

72pc victims are farmers

Published : 22 Jun 2022 11:25 PM | Updated : 23 Jun 2022 02:28 PM

In recent years, deaths from lightning in Bangladesh have increased significantly. Mainly farmers in villages are losing their lives from any formal protection. 

Experts said, if the temperature rises by 1 degree, the risk of lightning increases by 12 percent. In recent years, lightning in the country has increased by 15 percent.

Although various initiatives have been taken in different countries to prevent such death, in Bangladesh the initiatives are almost non-existence. Researchers say that not only preventing deaths, but also those who survive by being struck by lightning - their medical procedures are also important.

 At least 48 people were killed in lightning strikes in the last five months across the country. Of these 12 were killed by lightning strikes in Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Sherpur, Lalmonirhat, Sirajganj and Keraniganj districts on June 17, which is the highest single-day death toll caused by lightning strikes this year.

Bangladesh is one of the countries in the world considered to have reported one of the highest number of deaths due to lightning strikes. Some say that one-fourth of the world's deaths due to lightning strikes are happening in Bangladesh.

Curtin University in Australia has conducted a research on this natural disaster in Bangladesh. According to their research, at least 1878 people died in Bangladesh due to lightning from 2013 to 2020. Of them, 72 percent were farmers.

According to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the non-governmental organization Disaster Forum, some 3,162 people have died in lightning strikes from 2011 to 2021. 

As of June 17 this year, at least 48 people have died for the same reason. Most of the victims were farmers who were struck by lightning while working or going to work in the crop fields. Then fishermen and children playing on the rooftops.

In 2021, at least 362 people died. In 2020, more than 250 people died and in 2019, the number was around two hundred. 

Some 350 people were killed in lightning strikes in 2016 and the government identified the thunderstorm as a natural disaster for the first time after many people were killed that year. Then a special plan was taken to prevent lightning and a warning programme was started. But still the death does not stop.

Dr Khondoker Mokaddam Hossain, Professor (Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies) of Dhaka University told Bangladesh Post,” Lightning is a normal occurrence. It has happened before, but in recent times its trend has increased. Bangladesh has the highest number of lightning strikes in South Asia. On an average, about 300 to 400 people die in lightning strikes every year.”

"There are two main reasons for this situation. Due to global warming, the weather and climate have changed drastically. As a result, the type and timing of rainfall has changed. Storms ‘Kalbaishakhi’ have also increased. And the number or amount of lightning has also increased,” he explained.

He added, “On the other hand, there were a lot of tall trees including palm, banyan etc in villages across the country. If lightning strikes in the usual way, these tall trees would be able to absorb it. But now that it is not there, when lightning strikes open fields, it becomes the cause of human death. Although there are no trees in the city, there are high-rise buildings. As a result, the people of the city are getting relief from this death.” 

According to a study titled, ‘Risk Factors and Social Vulnerability’ by Thomas W. Smidlin, Professor of the Department of Geography at Kent State University of United States, "Every year from March to May, there are 40 thunderstorms per square kilometer in Bangladesh.

Researchers or environmentalists believe that it is just as important to complete the earthling process in rural or urban areas. Besides, it is necessary to stop cutting down trees unnecessarily and plant many more trees.

According to experts, the way the earthing system can be connected to the way mobile towers are being installed in every village can play a role in preventing lightning deaths.

The ‘Foundation for Disaster Forum’ has been researching lightning for a long time. They report that the number of people injured in the lightning strikes is unknown. However, it is estimated that four to five times more people were injured than killed.

Although the families of those killed in the lightning strike have been given a one-time financial assistance of only Tk 20,000 from the government, the long-term treatment of hundreds of helpless people is still largely neglected.

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