At least 20 people were killed in lightning strikes in the districts of Murshidabad, Hooghly and Purba Medinipur in south Bengal on Monday.
Nine people each died in Murshidabad and Hooghly, and two lost their lives in Purba Medinipur, according to a state disaster management official. Three more people were injured in lightning strikes in Murshidabad, and were admitted to Jangipur hospital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday condoled with the families of those killed, and approved an ex gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of each of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the injured. “My thoughts are with all those who lost their near and dear ones due to lightning in parts of West Bengal. May the injured recover at the earliest,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
In the evening, thunderstorms with lightning and gusty winds occurred in several south Bengal districts after a sweltering day, said the Met department. Some of the districts where the thunderstorms occurred are Purba Medinipur, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah, Murshidabad, Purulia, Bankura and Nadia.
Eight of the 123 passengers on board a Mumbai-Kolkata Air Vistara flight were injured when the aircraft hit turbulence 25 nautical miles from Kolkata because of the storm. Three passengers were seriously injured, while the rest suffered minor wounds, according to airport officials. After the flight landed safely in Kolkata, immediate medical assistance was provided to the passengers, and the Airports Authority of India sent the three critically injured people to a private hospital.
The Meteorological department had earlier issued a bulletin warning about a low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal. The department warned the weather system was likely to cause heavy rainfall in the state between June 10 and 14.
Following the alert, the state government’s disaster management department on Sunday wrote to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and other departments, informing them about the measures to be taken during heavy rainfall on those days.
“The rainfall is likely to coincide with the high tide during the same time and combined effect may breach embankments. It is requested that necessary steps to strengthen and repair embankments be taken immediately before the June 9 in coastal areas and riverine areas. Also, there will be thunderstorms and lightning. It is requested that all districts should take steps to create awareness about lightning, especially among farmers and people working in the open fields/grounds, that they should take shelter in pucca structures during lightning/thunderstorm,” read the letter.
The department requested the KMC to take urgent steps to prepare for the monsoon and spread awareness about steps that should be taken during floods and thunderstorms.