Lightning strike claim more lives than other natural disasters

177 people killed in four months, Sirajganj marked as lightning hotspot: Study

Lightning strike claims more lives in Bangladesh than other natural disasters such as flood and cyclone. At least 177 people were killed and 47 others injured in the lightning strike across the country in four months from March to first week of June this year.

The information was found in a study conducted by the Save the Society & Thunderstorm Awareness Forum (SSTAF). The organisation unveiled the study report at a press conference at its office at Purana Paltan in the capital on Friday (June 11).

According to the study report, among the 177 deceased, 149 are male and 28 are female. A total of 13 children and nine youths were killed in the lightning strikes. Most of the victims of lightning strikes are farmers who died while working in field. Of the deaths, a total of 122 people died while working in agricultural field alone, while some 15 people were killed in thunderstorm and nor'wester while picking mangoes. Some 10 victims died while staying in their houses, while some six people died during boat fishing, five people died while bringing cows from field, three people died while playing on field, six died while playing in the yard. In addition, two people were killed while driving a van/rickshaw and one was killed by lightning strike while staying inside a vehicle.

The study also says that lightning strikes killed at least 65 people in the first week of the running month (June) alone. The study also found that Sirajganj district as the lightning hotspot as a total of 18 people died in the district in May and June. Among the deceased, 14 others died in Jamalpur, while 13 in Netrakona, 16 in Chapainawabganj and 10 in Chattogram. 

The organisation conducted the study by compiling information collected from different print, electronic and online media as well as from their own field workers, said SSTAF General Secretary Md Rashim Mollah.

Dr Kabirul Bashar, a professor of Entomology at Jahangirnagar University and president of the organisation, presided over the press conference, while expert of lightning strike Dr Munir Ahmed, SSTF’s research team head Abdul Alim, Md Monir Hossain, Emdad Hossain Mia, Rana Bhuiyan and Nure Alim Jiku were also present at the event. 

Dr Kabirul Bashar said, “We have changed our environment by wrongdoings as we cut trees like palm trees and betel-nut trees which work as savior from the lightning strike. Besides, the incident of lightning strikes has increased in the country due to the global warming.”

He also said that the government declared the lightning strike as natural disaster, but there is small allotment to address the disaster. The allotment in this regard should be increased, he opined. 

He called upon the authorities concerned to build shelter centres in the field areas as mostly the farmers are victims of lightning strikes. He also urged to eliminate tax on import of equipment for thunder protection and makes it mandatory to establish thunder protection system in each house in the country.

At the press conference, members of the Save the Society & Thunderstorm Awareness Forum called upon the Bangladesh Meteorological Department to introduce a mobile messaging system so that they can alert people immediately after realising that lightning can strike a particular area. Currently meteorologists can predict about lightning 15 minutes before it strikes the ground, they said. 

The SSTAF members said that the incident of death in lightning strikes began in late March.