Lightning kills 38 people; some victims were taking selfies

Lightning has killed at least 38 people across two Indian states over the past 24 hours, officials said Monday.

Many of the deaths occurred in the western state of Rajasthan, where 11 people died after being struck by lightning near a watchtower at the 12th century Amber Fort, police said.

Senior police officer Anand Srivastava said some of the victims were taking selfies near the watchtower when lightning struck late Sunday.

India Lightning Deaths
State Disaster Response personnel perform a search operation at a watchtower of the 12th century Amber Fort where 11 people were killed Sunday after being struck by lightning in Jaipur, Rajasthan state, India, July 12, 2021. Vishal Bhatnagar / AP

“As it started raining visitors took cover at a watchtower near the fort. Lightning struck the watchtower killing 11 people
on the spot and injuring others,” Jairam, a local police officer who identified himself by only one name, told Reuters on Monday.  

Srivastava said at least nine more people were killed and nearly 20 others were injured in separate lightning strikes when the state was lashed with thunderstorms and monsoon rains.

In Uttar Pradesh, 18 people were killed by lightning on Sunday, said Manoj Dixit, a government official. Most of those killed were farm laborers working in fields.

Both state governments announced financial compensation for the families of the victims and those who were injured.

BBC News reports the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced compensation for the victims’ families.

The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of more lightning in the next two days.

Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September.

More than 100 people died in two states in June last year in lightning-related incidents, BBC News reported.

More than 2,900 people were killed by lightning in India in 2019, according to the most recent official figures available.