BHUBANESWAR/BHADRAK/KENDRAPARA: Lightning strikes claimed 16 lives across seven districts of the State which were lashed by monsoon rains on Sunday.
As many as five deaths were reported from Bhadrak districts alone. Three persons also sustained burn injuries after lightning struck them in three blocks of the district.
Balasore reported at least four casualties while reports of three deaths came in from Kendrapara. Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Angul and Ganjam also reported one death each.
The deceased in Bhadrak included Baidhara Rout, Narahari Das and Purnachandra Jena, all from Chandabali block. The other two deceased - Mrutyunjaya Behera and Santosh Sethi - belonged to Tihid and Bhadrak blocks respectively.
District Emergency Officer Rajendra Panda said all the deceased were working in paddy fields when lightning struck them. An autopsy was conducted at Bhadrak District Headquarters Hospital. Unofficial sources said, three persons sustained injuries and were admitted to Basudevpur hospital after lightning hit them while they were working in their fields.
Similarly, three persons including a woman were killed in lightning in separate places in Kendrapara district on Sunday. The deceased were identified as Jharimani Rout of Arohi, Ramesh Chandra Swain of Koshila in Mahakalapada block and Sanjukta Sahoo of Tarada in Garadapur block. Another death report came in from Angul. All of them were working in their farm fields when lightning struck them.
Police seized the bodies and sent those to the local hospital for autopsy. Family members of the three deceased will be extended ex gratia, said Sub-Collector Kanhu Charan Dhir.
In Keonjhar’s Banspal block, 32-year-old Subash Barik was hit by lightning while he was ploughing his farmland. Similarly, Shankar Majhi, a 45-year-old farmer of Beheramunda village under Sabdega block was killed by lightning in the afternoon.
Lightning has been a major cause of deaths in the State and was included as a State-specific disaster on April 1, 2015. After the State Government enhanced ex gratia for other disaster-related deaths, compensation for lightning deaths was also raised from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 4 lakh per head this year.
Close to 300 persons die after being struck by lightning in the State every year. Between 2001 and 2014, it claimed more than 3500 persons. In last seven years, the lightning deaths stand at over 2200.