Dozens die in storm
Labourers hit by lightning
Lightning killed 79 people, mostly farm labourers working in fields, across the eastern India state of Bihar over the 24 hours, a state official has said.
Fifty-three people died in Bihar. Ten people were killed in the eastern state of Jharkhand, and at least 16 died in Madhya Pradesh.
At least 24 others were injured when thunderstorms and monsoon rains lashed 14 districts of the state.
In Bihar, the deaths occurred in Nalanda, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Purnea, Munger, Gaya, Saharsa, Bhagalpur, Banka and Kaimur.
Disaster management official Vyasji said scores of cattle also perished after being struck by lightning.
The dead included at least eight shepherds watching their sheep, said Vyasji, who uses only one name.
He told reporters that he expects the death toll to go up as reports come in from remote districts of the state.
Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September. However, the toll in Bihar is unusually high.
At least 2,000 people have died in lightning strikes in India every year since 2005, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
India receives 80 per cent of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season, which runs between June and September.
In the town of Naubatpur in Bihar, on the outskirts of the state capital Patna, a lightning strike left open a 100ft (30m) crack in the ground.
“The crack due to lightning is 100 feet and eight feet deep,” district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
80% of India’s annual rainfall comes during the monsoon season