At least 68 people – some of them taking selfies – have been killed in lightning since Sunday’s scattered rains across north India, media reports said, adding Prime Minister Modi has expressed pain at the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the family members of the deceased.
In a tweet quoting Modi, the PMO said: “Saddened by the loss of lives due to lightning in parts of Madhya Pradesh. The State government will provide all possible assistance to the affected. From the PMNRF, Rs. 2 lakh would be given to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 would be given to the injured: PM Modi.”
The Prime Minister also expressed anguish at the deaths in two other states and announced similar relief.
While the death toll due to heavy lightning in Uttar Pradesh mounted to 41 on Monday (July 12), seven people were reportedly died in Madhya Pradesh. Lightning strikes also claimed 20 lives in Rajasthan on Sunday. Among the deceased, seven were children from Kota and Dholpur districts. Over 10 more people reportedly suffered injuries.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a compensation of ₹ 5 lakh each to the family of those killed. The state government announced that financial help will also be provided to those who lost their livestock in rain-related incidents.
A visit to the favourite tourist destination in Rajasthan, Amer Fort near Jaipur, turned fatal for 11 people as lightning struck them while taking a selfie on top of a watchtower in front of the 12th century monument, NDTV reported.
The lightning strike — captured on mobile cameras — was so powerful that dozens of people panicked and jumped off the watchtower. A number of them sustained injuries, reports said. Twenty-seven people were reportedly on the watchtower and the fort wall when the tragedy struck.
The southwest monsoon has reached almost all parts of the country, but has stayed away from parts of north India. It is yet to reach Delhi, and neighbouring states of Haryana, parts of west Uttar Pradesh and west Rajasthan.
Lightning strikes have been rising over the years. In 2018, Andhra Pradesh recorded 36,749 lightning strikes in just a 13-hour period in April, officials said. The number was unusually high and the result of “extreme weather patterns”, said the state disaster management authority.
Some meteorologists in India also theorize that rising global temperatures, which researchers say contribute to more severe electrical storms, could also play an important role.