Heavy rainfall and lightning claimed 12 lives on Tuesday (June 12), taking the death toll in West Bengal to 33.
The district of Bankura saw at least four deaths and Hooghly had three deaths due to lightning. This came just after the similar incident that happened in Palasbari tea garden in Jalpaiguri district, when lightning injured 45 tea garden workers, mostly women, on Monday.
A police superintendent of Jalpaiguri district said that the three injured in the tea garden are in critical condition.
A 31-year old vendor, Abdul Ali Khan, was struck in lightning while returning home. Lakshmi Majhi (32) and her daughter Payel Majhi (12) were killed when they went to a field after it started raining to bring back their cow to home.
In the past, similar incidents have claimed lives of a 45-year old Ananda Pal in Santipur of Nadia district, and 32-year old Sanjay Das in Keshpur of West Midnapur district on Monday. Debabrata Pal, 21, an aspiring cricketer, was killed at a cricket coaching centre in south Kolkata after a spot very close to him was struck with lightning.
The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has expressed her grief over the deaths. The Bengal government has declared a relief of Rs. 2 lakh for the families of the victims.
As a measure to reduce the number of deaths during a lightning storm, the Bengal government has tied up with a US-based company for a project, which will help officials track lightning. The data can reportedly help forecast lightning incidents about 40 minutes before the event. The information about the lightning, however, will be difficult to send to the people who are out in the field.
The Bengal government has also initiated an awareness campaign to help people stay safe. The programme says that people should avoid going out or taking shelter under trees during lightning.
Also, while travelling in cars, one should put on the glass to avoid lightning. It is being advised to sit on the ground when one is in the open field, said an official.
In 2015, the annual report of National Crime Records Bureau showed that 169 people had died due to lightning in West Bengal and about 2,641 people had lost their lives.