At least 17 people were killed and several others injured in Odisha on Wednesday as lightning struck them during a thunder squall. Most of the people killed had either taken shelter under trees or were working in open fields when thunderbolts struck them. Extensive damage has also been reported from Berhampur. A large number of trees were uprooted, blocking roads and causing power cuts for several hours.
Three people were killed at Labangiri near Bhubaneswar, while they were thatching a prayer room of Jagannath temple when lightning struck them. Those killed were identified as Rama Patra, 55, Tutu Ojha, 22, and Santia Harichandan, 26.
Deaths were also reported from Dhauli (located on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar), Bhadrak district, Kendrapara district, Mayurbhanj district, Ganjam district, Bisrampur and Kandagaradi villages, and Pagala Baba Chhak.
In Kendrapara district, three people were killed at Keredagada village in Pattamundai block, while one person was killed at Karanja village in Mahakalapada. A woman was killed in Diagan area in Khurda district. Six people were injured at Totapada village in Khurda. Two people were killed in Bhadrak district, three at Panchagan village of Sundarpada-Jatni road, and four in Hinjili block of Ganjam.
Odisha is often dubbed as the natural disaster capital of the country because of the frequent droughts, floods, and cyclones that hit the state. Data also shows that lightning claims more human lives in Odisha compared to other natural disasters.
In the past 13 years, nearly 3,235 people have been reported killed by lightning in this coastal state. Mayurbhanj, Ganjam, Sundargarh and Dhenkanal are the districts where most deaths due to lightning are reported every year.
There are basically three reasons behind thunderstorm accompanied by lightning – sufficiently available of moisture, unstable air and atmospheric mechanism to lift the air. Occurrence of thunderstorm can be predicted to some degree of certainty using a Doppler radar. These radars can predict a thunderstorm four to five hours before their occurrence. Proposals have already been sent for installation of Doppler radars in Odisha.
According to Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, heavy rain will continue along with thunderstorms over north Odisha on Thursday.