GUJARAT, India – More than two dozen people were killed by lightning as unseasonable thunderstorms struck the state of Gujarat Sunday into Monday, local media reported. The region also saw unprecedented hail and heavy rain from the severe storms.
27 Dead, 24 hurt and 70 animals killed
Flooding, hail and lightning injured another 27 people and killed 70 animals, according to the Hindu. Standing water over crops in the coastal state of western India were also destroyed. The Agriculture Minister stated on X that he is planning a survey to assess the damage and loss to provide compensation.
"I am deeply saddened by the news of the death of many people due to bad weather and lightning in various cities of Gujarat. I express my deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy for their irreparable loss," posted the Union Home Minister on X, translated by Google. "The local administration is engaged in relief work, praying for the speedy recovery of the injured."
Unseasonable rain and thunderstorms
Parts of the area received 6.6 inches of rain in just over 24 hours, according to the India Meteorological Department. The average rainfall for the entire month of November is only 0.3 inches.
Seasonal rain comes with monsoons between June and November, where the state averages 31.5 inches of rain. The rest of the year only sees about 1.4 inches of rain. So, the half of a foot of rain took residents and farmers by surprise.
Lightning statistics in India
IMO data shows that lightning killed about 1,750 people in India from spring 2020 to 2021. Almost half of all weather-related fatalities and 40% of all accidental deaths were due to lightning, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Groups launched the "Lightning Resistant India" campaign in 2018 to lower lightning deaths by 60%.
Farmers represented 77% of the fatalities. Data also shows that people were standing under a tree for 71% of 2021 lightning deaths. Only 25% died from a direct strike.
The Annual Lightning Report showed that lightning strikes are increasing. The number of strikes per year in India rose 34% from 2019 to 2021.