Hazardous weather has killed at least 36 people in northern India up to Sunday, 12 of whom died after being struck by lightning, officials said as they warned of heavier downpours in the next few days.
Mohamed Usman, 15, was on his friend’s rooftop in the town of Prayagraj when lightning struck on Friday night, killing him instantly. His friend Aznan, who has a name, was injured and is being treated in a hospital.
“As soon as he stepped on the terrace, lightning struck and he died instantly,” Mohammad Ayub, Usman’s father, told The Associated Press.
In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, some 24 people have died after their homes collapsed in relentless rain, relief commissioner Ranvir Prasad said.
Officials said 39 people in the state had died from lightning in the past five days, prompting the state government to issue new guidelines on how people can protect themselves during a thunderstorm .
Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
Colonel Sanjay Srivastava, whose organization Lightning Resilient India Campaign works with the Indian Meteorological Department, said deforestation, depletion of water bodies and pollution all contribute to climate change, leading to more lightning strikes.
Global warming has also increased the frequency of lightning strikes, said Sunita Narain, director general of the Center for Science and the Environment. A temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) multiplies lightning by 12.
There has been a 34% increase in lightning strikes across India over the past year, which has also sent fatalities skyrocketing.
India recorded 1,489 lightning fatalities in 2016, and that number rose to 2,869 in 2021, according to Srivastava.
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