At least 24 people died in lightning strikes during unseasonal rainfall in India’s western state of Gujarat.
The state experienced a large number of lightning strikes on Sunday, which killed about 71 animals and damaged 29 houses, the state emergency operation centre said. At least 23 people also sustained injuries, the officials added on Monday afternoon.
The most deaths were reported from Dahod district where four people died on Sunday, followed by three in Banaskantha and Bharuch and two in Tapi district.
Heavy rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms and hailstorms continued into Monday, with some places receiving up to 144mm of rain in the 24 hours, according to state government data.
A cyclonic circulation lying over north east Arabian Sea and adjoining Saurashtra and Kutch regions brought heavy showers to the state, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The unseasonal rainfall damaged crops and forced the ceramic factories in the Morbi district to be shut.
“We will begin a survey soon to assess the loss suffered,” Gujarat agriculture minister Raghavij Patel said on Monday, adding that compensation will be paid to victims on the basis of the survey’s results.
The IMD has forecast rainfall to continue in parts of the state on Monday.
Amit Shah, the federal home minister, expressed his condolences to those who “lost their loved ones in this tragedy for their irreparable loss”.
“The local administration is engaged in relief work, praying for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Mr Shah wrote in Gujarati on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Gujarat is not unfamiliar with rain-related calamities. In August 2020, 14 people died in the state over just two days in various incidents related to heavy rains and flooding.
Studies have predicted a whopping 50 per cent rise in deadly lightning strikes by the end of this century because of the rise in sea surface area.
A warming climate leads to more extreme weather, like thunderstorms, and according to a study published by the University of California in 2015, for every 1C increase in temperature, the frequency of lightning strikes increases by 12 per cent.
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