80 killed so far by lightning this year | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 14, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:44 AM, May 14, 2016

80 killed so far by lightning this year

Rising temperature behind increase in lightning storms

At least 80 people have been killed so far by lightning this year, according to the department of disaster management.

In the last two days alone, around 50 people lost their lives after being struck by lightning in different parts of the country.

“It is unusual that so many people were killed by lightning strikes in just a couple of days,” Abdul Mannan, an official at the meteorological department, told The Daily Star yesterday.

The rising temperature could be one of the main reasons behind the increase in lightning storms, said the meteorologist.

More lightning storms are expected throughout this month, the Met Office said.

Experts, however, couldn't say for sure whether the rise in lightning storms is related to climate change.

Dr Samarendra Karmakar, former director at the meteorological department, said it would require extensive research to find any links between the frequency of thunderstorms and climate change.

“In Bangladesh, lightning storms occur mostly in the afternoon in May when the temperature is high.

People should exercise caution and stay in safe places during this time, said Samarendra.

However, Dr AKM Saiful Islam, professor at the institute of water of flood management of Buet, said, “It seems the frequency of lightning has increased slightly.”

Referring to studies carried out abroad, he said if the global temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius, it could increase the number of lightning strikes by up to 12 percent.

He also pointed out deforestation and the anomalous behaviour of weather as probable reasons behind the rise in lightning storms.

According to reports published in The Daily Star, at least 635 people were killed by lightning between 2010 and 2015. The actual number is believed to be much higher since many incidents go unreported.

The newspaper reports suggest that 51 percent of the victims are farmers, and most of them are struck by lightning while working in the fields.11

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