A sudden spurt in incidents of lightning strikes in Bihar has alarmed the disaster management authorities who have advised the masses to take extra precaution during the monsoon rains. What is strange, the number of casualties has been rising each year despite the authorities launching aware campaigns and issuing frequent advisories.

Only yesterday, more than 100 people were killed in possibly the severest-ever lightning strikes across 23 districts of the state. A majority of 13 deaths were reported from Gopalganj, followed by 8 each in Madhubani and Nawada, 6 each in Siwan and Bhagalpur, 5 each in East Champaran and Banka and the rest from other districts.

Reports said the casualty figure went very high this time since the majority of the villagers were working in the farmlands with monsoon arriving on time and the paddy transplantation season in progress. Majority of the villagers didn’t even get time to escape from the scene and were simply caught unawares as thunderstorms accompanied with the heavy rains lashed the region.

“It was after some two decades that the monsoon had arrived on time and this is the golden period for kharif crops. So, the majority of farmers and villagers were out in the field engaged in farming works at the time when the lightning struck. That pushed up the casualty figure,” an eminent geographer and former Patna University vice-chancellor Ras Bihari Singh said.

Meanwhile, the meteorological department issued a fresh alert for heavy to very heavy rains and lightning for large swathes of Bihar in the next 72 hours and advised the villagers to be very cautious. “Moisture incursion from the trough line and cyclonic circulation along with convergence of winds is leading to widespread showers accompanied with lightning,” a Patna Meteorological Centre official said.

The disaster management department issued an advisory today in view of an alert from the meteorological department. Through the advisory issued through all newspapers, the department has advised villagers against going near water bodies, taking shelter under trees, high-rise buildings or moving near the windows or on the roof during rains to avoid such disasters.

According to a report, lightning strikes have claimed 2480 lives in the past one decade, indicating the seriousness of the situation. This year alone, 154 people have died in the lightning strikes.