At least 79 people, most of them farm laborers working in the fields during the monsoon season, have been killed by lightning over the past two days in India, according to state officials.
The deaths occurred in the states of Bihar, where 56 people died, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
In Bihar, the victims included at least eight shepherds tending their sheep, said Vyasji, a disaster management official who uses only one name. He told reporters that he expects the death toll to go up as reports come in from remote districts of the state, the Associated Press reports.
Vyasji said scores of cattle also perished after being struck by lightning.
The monsoon season, which brings heavy rain and violent storms, lasts from June to September.
Lal Babu Usvaha, a farmer from the village of Kanti Butiya in Bihar, tells The Guardian: “Work is work. We can’t stop because of the weather. We have to keep working in the fields. But we feel scared when we see so many clouds, so much electricity in the sky.”
According to the National Crime Record bureau, at least 2,000 deaths in India have been associated with lightning in every year since 2005. Lightning is the leading cause of natural calamity death in a country beset by cyclones and floods.
SOURCE: Doug Stanglin