Lightning Kills 28 People As Storms Thrash India — Andhra Pradesh To Pay Families

Monsoon season in India is nearing its end, which usually means farm laborers start heading back outside as storms weaken. But on Sunday, 28 people — most of them working in the fields — were struck by lightning, the majority in a southern state called Andhra Pradesh.

Meteorologist Sunil Pawar told the New York Times that the death toll was the highest from one storm on a single day in his recent memory.

Most of the 28 struck by lightning this weekend were from Andhra Pradesh; 19 in that district were among the dead. Most of those were working in the fields when they were struck by lightning.

In addition to those killed in Andhra Pradesh, eight more are dead in the eastern state of Odisha and another died in a state called Telangana. Among the victims were a father and son, Hindi News added.

Eight districts in India were hit hard by storms on Sunday, CBS News reported. The country was inundated with rain that has continued into the week. The storms are being blamed on a low-pressure system over the Bay of Bengal. Rains had led to flooding in low-lying areas and swamped roads.

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The monsoon season lasts from June to late September. At the beginning and end of the season, storms generally weaken, luring agricultural workers outside to the work in the fields again.

Deaths and injuries related to lightning seem fairly common in India, especially during the stormy season. Last year, 2,500 Indians were killed. As comparison, in the U.S., the most deaths in a single year was 432 — and that was in 1943.

One of the more dramatic stories to emerge from the deadly storms was the flight of two female cricket teams during a match when lightning struck a palm tree nearby and caught fire. That incident also took place in Andhra Pradesh, in a district called Guntur.

“It was a miraculous escape for the players and the people at the grounds,” district cricket official Sitapati told CBS News.

And six people’s lives were saved in another region of the country when their car was overcome by floodwaters and saved by Good Samaritans who used a tractor to pull the vehicle from the waters.

As for the 28 who weren’t so lucky, Andhra Pradesh’s minister has pledged $6,000 in compensation to the victims.

[Photo Courtesy Ethan Miller/Getty Images]