Bhubaneswar (LocalWire) July 13: Thanks to improved early-warning infrastructure mechanism and increased public awareness, the scourge of lightning fatalities has registered a sharp downward trend in the eastern state.
Over 320 people were killed following lightning strike in 2018-19, while 465 people lost their lives in 2017-18.
The fatality during the same period in 2016-17 and 2015-16 were 397 and 401, respectively, according to a senior officer of the Revenue and Disaster Management Department.
Lightning-induced fatalities account for nearly 27% of total deaths caused by disaster, including fire, sunstroke, hailstorm, flood, cyclone, boat capsize, drowning and snakebite.
Lightning alone has caused over 5,000 deaths in the state since the super cyclone of 1999. Most of these casualties occurred between April and September, the officer informed.
Lightning is widely perceived as the most unpredictable natural phenomenon, claiming many lives in this coastal district.
It’s a natural phenomenon and to stop its occurrence is simply beyond human control. However to reduce the lightning fatalities, an awareness campaign to sensitise people and educate them on the ways and means to ensure safety during lightning has been launched by the state government.
The government has also distributed publicity materials on Do’s and Don’ts during lightning for as part of the mass awareness programme.
People have also been advised not to expose themselves in the outdoors during the rain and thunderstorm through a Common Alert Protocol (CAP) system that sends messages through mobile phone to alert people in a particular area about the possible lightning strike.
Besides sensitization campaigns for enhancing awareness on lightning safety are being undertaken at periodic intervals across the state, the officer said.
“We are receiving SMS alerts about lightning and thunderstorm. People are no more throwing caution into the winds. They prefer to stay indoors to ensure the safety of their lives,” said Ramakant Mishra, a native of Acharya Vihar locality in Bhubaneswar.