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A series of lightning strikes in the eastern Indian state of Bihar has killed 20 people in less than 24 hours as more extreme weather is expected in the coming days.
Forecasts show that thunderstorms are expected to continue in the north part of the state on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the BBC. Deadly lightning strikes originating from monsoon rains kill hundreds in India every year, with more than 3,000 dying in 2019, as reported by The Times of India. The deaths were reported across 8 districts within Bihar.
Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, has called on citizens to follow the state’s safety procedures to avoid injury or death while vowing to provide compensation to the victim’s families.
“Follow the advisory issued by the disaster management department from time to time for being safe during lightning. Stay indoors and safe during bad weather,” Nitish said in a statement on Tuesday. Experts noted that the state’s geographical location makes it easy for lightning strikes to occur during monsoon storms.
Kumar said each of the victim’s families in Bihar will receive a compensation of 400,000 rupees, which is equivalent to $5,000. Earlier on July 24th, the chief minister warned about the deadly potential of these storms and asked officials to install lightning arrests in schools, hospitals, and government buildings.
One of the main contributing factors to India’s growing deaths from extreme weather is the high number of people who work outdoors in rural and urban areas.
Lightning strikes rose by 34%, with more than 18 million strikes occurring in India from April 2020 to March 2021, according to a study by the Climate Resilient Observing System Promotion Council.
The BBC notes that India’s increase in lightning strikes is also shown via satellite data from 1995 to 2014.