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Lightning is a Bigger Killer than Earthquakes and Floods in India

Over 100 deaths were reported due to lightning on Tuesday in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh with 57 from Bihar alone.

  • In 2014, at least 2,582 people died in lightning strikes
  • Victims of lightning isn’t recognized by the national-level official disaster relief policy for providing proper compensation from the national calamity relief funds
  • Lightning strikes are going to get worse in the coming years due to global warming

Are you aware of the natural disaster that kills thousands every year? Well, if you are guessing it as earthquake or flood, then you are wrong for sure. Every year, over 2500 deaths per year, most of the villages are still unequipped to handle lightning. What’s worse?Lightning is not recognized as a natural disaster under the national-level official disaster relief policy for providing proper compensation to the families of victims from the national calamity relief funds.

Over 100 deaths were reported due to lightning on Tuesday, June 21, in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh with 57 from Bihar alone and an emergency meeting of the cabinet was quickly called in Bihar and compensation for victims was also announced. Rather than providing such compensations, a more regular provision at the national level in the calamity relief funds should be made available.

Lightning isn’t always fatal but the injuries from it can be very painful and specialized treatment must be provided immediately. So the policy-makers should not only keep the matter of compensation in mind but the facilities for proper medical care must also be provided so that some lives can be saved.

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The Institute of Land and Disaster Management and the Government of Kerala, had examined the data on the leading natural disasters for 45 years (1967-2012) and concluded that 39% of all deaths had been caused by lightning – compared to 18% by floods, says the Wire report.  In 2014, at least 2,582 people died in lightning strikes, according to the government.

According to thewire.in report, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and the Himalayan region are most affected by lightning and produce the highest number of deaths. Most of the victims are women and children.

With little or no protective steps taken against lightning in villages, it is the people living in the rural that is affected the most. Farmers, field workers, nomads and forest workers have been particularly vulnerable to death by lightning.

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“It is mentioned under ‘death due to natural causes’, implying that it affects everyone equally. Yet it affects the villagers most, and since most poor people still stay in villages, it affects the poor disproportionately. Those who work in the fields or have to go around with herds of cows and goats or have to go out into the forests are more likely to suffer. Easily several scores of people die due to this every year in rural districts.” said Dr. Yogesh Jain, who treats lightning victims at a rural hospital in Bilaspur district, Chhattisgarh.

A lightning conductor. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Though natural disasters are predictable, it is hard to pinpoint where and when it will take place. Lightning can strike anywhere and anytime in the zone. Hence protective measures must be deployed wherever necessary. Lightning conductors should be readily available close to the areas more affected by lightning. The hospitals should be well-equipped to handle a significant number of patients. These precautions are necessary to save the lives of all those injured by lightning.

The lightning strikes are going to get worse in the coming years, say scientists. A team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, found that lightning would be expected to increase by about 12 percent per degree Celsius of warming which means about a 50 percent rise over the 21st century due to global warming.

-The report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Lightning Kills More People in India Than Floods, Quakes

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