At least 27 people are dead after lightning strikes in various parts of India’s state of West Bengal, officials said Tuesday.
The pre-monsoon storms hit six districts of the state late on Monday, accompanied with strong winds.
While most victims were directly hit by the strikes, some deaths were also reported after thatched huts and trees collapsed, disaster management official Mrinal Kanti Rano said.
The victims were mostly farmers, though some were people who simply happened to be outdoors, he added.
In the worst such incident, a lightning bolt struck six people sitting near a pump house in Murshidabad district, Rano said.
“We do get such storms in the pre-monsoon time, but the high death toll this time is unusual. Generally, [we] have 2-5 fatalities during such incidents, but this time it is several times higher,” Rano said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the loss of life. He announced compensation of 200,000 rupees (2,746 dollars) for the next of kin of those who had died and 50,000 rupees for each injured person.
In a related incident, a domestic flight was hit by turbulence just before landing at the state capital, Kolkata, leaving eight passengers injured.
Summer storms accompanied by strong winds are common in India ahead of the rainy monsoon season. The weather bureau has forecast more storms for India in the coming days.
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