PUDUKKOTTAI: At least four women were killed and 26 others were injured after they were stuck by lightning while working in an agricultural land in Thanner Panthalpatti village in Pudukkottai district on Tuesday evening.
The deceased were identified as Vijaya (47), Santhi (35), Lakshmi (60) and Kalai Selvi( 45), all residents of Vaithur village, which is 13 kms from apart from the field where they were working. While the injured are receiving treatment at the Pudukkottai Government Medical College Hospital, the incident has come as a catastrophe for labourers who work for a wage of Rs 200.
The Medical college held a grieving look as ambulances carrying the patients came one after the other. Every the stretcher brought down from the ambulance was accompanied by sobbing relatives who were worried over their family members.
Recalling the incident, Alagu Lakshmi, a survivor said, "We all took shelter at a temporary tent built near the agricultural land, as the rain intensified by afternoon. Out of nowhere, we heard a loud sound and every one fainted inside the tent. All that we remember after that, is being carried to the hospital."
Incidentally, the rescue was delayed as the incident took place in an agricultural field which is far away from the residential area. "There are no houses in the surrounding area and only a few labourers were working in a farm which is a few distance away. It took at least 30 minutes for the information of the incident to be spread and help to arrive," said a relative of the victim.
While the attempt to earn money was a damaging one, it turned out to be a disaster for the family of Saroja (60), who survived the incident but lost her daughter, Santhi. Sobbing in disbelief, Saroja said, "How am I supposed to take care of my 11-year-old grandson now? My son-in law already passed away a few years ago and now my daughter Santhi is also gone. We just came to work so that we are able to save some money to continue my grandson's education ?"
Reportedly, 37 women from Vaithur village had come to the farm for a day's labour work. "They were all brought to the village in load-vehicles to harvest groundnuts. It is an unfortunate incident, because all the women came just to earn few money so they could support their family," said Yethi Vasuammal, the contract women who hired the women for work.
Following the arrival of patients at the Medical College Hospital, District Collector P Uma Maheshwari visited the hospital to supervise the treatment and ordered for a seperate ward to be created.
Speaking to TNIE, Maheshwari said, "26 patients are currently receiving treatment at the hospital and 14 among them suffered only minor burns. Efforts are being taken to provide the best treatment. A seperate ward has been created to treat the patients and a team is particularly assisting the relatives so they recieve the best treatment."
Meanwhile in a similiar incident in Perambalur district, a 55-year-old shepherd died after he was struck by lightning while grazing the goats. The deceased was identified as Velu (50), a resident of the Yeraraiasamuthiram village. Following the incident, his body was rescued and sent to Government Hospital in Perambalur for postmortem.