At least 40 people have been killed by lightning strikes in Bangladesh within 24 hours as violent thunderstorms rumbled across the country.
The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said the storms caused disruption across 14 districts including Dhaka. Their spokesman told DPA news agency that most of the fatalities occurred due to a lack of awareness.
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Most of the deaths were reported in the capital. The northern districts of Rajshahi, Sirajgani and Pabna were also badly hit.
Two 20-year-old students were killed during a football match in Dhaka’s Jatrabari neighboughhood. Eight others were injured as the lightning bolt struck the ground.
The Hindu, a daily newspaper, reported that the casualties included a number of children who were playing in open grounds during the rain, but most of the victims were farmers working in their fields.
The rains do help to break the intense heat experienced ahead of the monsoon rains. However, the downpours are often accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Meteorologist Hafizur Rahman said “Bangladesh witnesses the seasonal northwestern storms every year from March to May”. They are most evident in the Rajsahi and Sylhet regions and are otherwise known as kalboishakhis.
Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Department has now launched a campaign to create awareness among people so that they remain inside during thunderstorms. Lightning kills around 300 people each year across the country.