Lightning strikes killed more than 70 people across multiple states in northern India, reported CBS News. The incident has prompted India’s state and federal governments to announce compensation for victims and their families.
- One group of victims in Jaipur, a popular tourist city, died while taking selfies and pictures of the storm, per the BBC.
What happened in Jaipur?
Jaipur is a popular tourist city in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. On a hilltop overlooking Jaipur city is a 12th-century fort known as Amer Fort, per CBS News. Tourists flock to the fort and its tower for a panoramic view of the city.
- About 30 people including locals and tourists gathered on Amer Fort Sunday to watch the storm — and the lightning — move across Jaipur.
- Some people took selfies during the storm, reported the BBC.
“It was already raining when the people were there,” explained Jaipur police officer Saurabh Tiwari via CBS News. “They huddled in the towers as the rainfall intensified.”
- “When the lightning struck, the tower’s wall collapsed, many people were buried under it,” Shankar Lal Saini, a senior disaster management official told CNN. “Since the fort is on a hill, when the debris was falling and space reduced, some people also fell into a ditch.”
- “Some of the injured were left unconscious by the strikes. Others ran out in panic and extreme pain,” Tiwari said.
So far, rescue crews have found 11 people dead at the Jaipur tower and another 11 people injured, reported CNN.
How many people died in the lightning storm?
Over this weekend, at least 76 people in India have been confirmed dead from lightning strikes or lightning-related incidents, reported CBS News.
- In the state of Rajasthan, at least 23 people died from lightning strikes. This included the incident at the Jaipur fort’s tower, per CBS News.
- In Uttar Pradesh, another north Indian state, at least 42 people died from lightning strikes on Saturday and Sunday, reported CBS News. Officials have not released further details.
- In Madhya Pradesh, at least 11 people died due to lightning strikes, CBS News reported. This included two shepherds who took their animals out to graze and sought shelter under a tree when the storms started.
How common are lightning deaths in India?
Unfortunately, lightning deaths are becoming increasingly common in India, reported the BBC. These incidents typically occur during the monsoon season which runs from May to September. On average, lightning-related incidents kill about 2,000 Indians annually.
- According to the Indian Meteorological Department per the BBC, lightning deaths have doubled since the 1960s.
- Just since the mid-1990s, deaths in lightning incidents in India have increased by 30% to 40%, the BBC reported.
- In June 2020, at least 107 people were killed by lightning in two Indian states in just two days, per CNN.
- Officials say that the increase is related to the ongoing climate crisis, said BBC.
To stay safe during storms, people are encouraged to seek shelter in buildings or cars, reported the BBC. If shelter is not available, people should avoid tall or isolated structures — including trees — and instead make themselves as small a target as possible.