Twenty-four people have died by lightning strikes and about 23 injured in rain-related incidents in the western Indian state of Gujarat over the past two days, government officials say, with rains continuing on Monday morning.
The state was hit by heavy rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms and hailstorms on Sunday and Monday, with some places receiving up to 144mm (5.7 inches) of rain in the 24 hours ending Monday morning, according to state government data.
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The rains caused damage to houses and loss of cattle across the state. At least 40 animals were also killed.
“We will begin a survey soon to assess the loss suffered,” Gujarat Agriculture Minister Raghavji Patel said on Monday, adding that compensation will be paid to victims on the basis of the survey’s results.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast rainfall to continue in parts of the state on Monday.
Federal Home Minister Amit Shah, who along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi hails from Gujarat, said he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths, in a post on social media platform X.
Gujarat is not unfamiliar with rain-related calamities, but such big rainstorms are not expected in the state during winter months, and fierce downpours caught many off guard.
In August 2020, 14 people died in the state over just two days in various incidents related to heavy rains and flooding. A year previously, in August 2019, 31 people died in the state in rain-related incidents.
While flash floods and lightning kill dozens of people in India each year, scientists warn that rising global temperatures are unleashing a cascade of extreme weather events.