Lightning Strike In India’s Andhra Pradesh Kills Two Dozen Farmers While Women’s Cricket Teams Narrowly Escape

Lightning strikes in India’s Andhra Pradesh state claimed the lives of more than two dozen people, mostly farmhands, while two women’s cricket teams barely managed to escape a similar fate.

India’s southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh has been receiving thunderstorms and lightning strikes, and many have been struck while working in the rain-soaked fields. The latest fatalities attributed to the natural calamity is the death of about 28 farmers who were busy working in the fields, reported Fox News. The state is the hardest hit by the receding monsoons, and about 19 people have reportedly died at various other locations in the region, confirmed J.V. Ramudu, a senior police official.

Confirming this year’s fatalities, another senior police official M. Sanjay added, “The number of lives lost seems to be very high compared to previous storms.”

The state’s chief minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, concurred that the deaths occurred over the weekend when severe rains and thunderstorms wreaked havoc in eight districts in Andhra Pradesh. While the laborers were truly unfortunate, fate was a little kinder on two women’s cricket teams competing on a cricket field. The female cricket players were engrossed in a cricket match in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh when the skies suddenly darkened and lightning struck a tree on the ground’s periphery. The intensity of the lightning strike caused the palm tree to immediately burst into flames, scaring the players and the spectators who had come to cheer them.

While spectators for a cricket match played by females may be a rather rare phenomenon, lightning strikes are fairly common in Andhra Pradesh, which experiences heavy to severe rainfall every year between the months of June to September. Incidentally, lightning strikes have claimed the lives of more than 2,500 innocent civilians last year in India, but this weekend’s death toll was unusually high, sparking a high level of discussion, which resulted in the announcement of compensation to the farmers’ next of kin, reported the New York Times.

Meteorologists have expressed concern over the continued development of a low-pressure system over the Bay of Bengal, which might bring additional trouble for Andhra Pradesh. This low-pressure system has been causing strong and persistent rainfall, accompanied by thunderstorms that are making life not just difficult but dangerous as well.

The weather bureau insists that farmers in Andhra Pradesh usually avoid venturing into the fields during the monsoons but return to the fields as the rains start to recede. However, the unpredictable weather can suddenly worsen, trapping these innocent farmhands and lashing them with lightning strikes.

[Image Credit | Narinder Nanu / Getty Image]