At least 69 people were struck dead by lightning in India, with 11 victims killed when they were taking selfies as monsoon storms lashed the country, police said Monday.
While 42 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh, another 20 died in Rajasthan, both northern Indian states, on Sunday. Eleven people were struck by lightning while taking selfies in the rain atop a watchtower at the 12th-century Amer Fort in Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur, police officer Vishnu Khatri said.
There were up to 30 people on the tower and a nearby area when the incident occurred, prompting some of them to reportedly jump to the ground.
“The people who were on Sunday outing were carelessly taking selfies at the vantage point despite inclement weather. More than 20 injured people were hospitalized,” he added.
Apart from the incident at Amer Fort, nine more casualties from lightning were reported across the state, seven of them being children, state officials said. In Uttar Pradesh, 42 people, mostly farmers or the homeless who were outdoors were killed in similar incidents, an official at the state disaster management control room said. Seven more died in lightning strikes in central Madhya Pradesh state, reports said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the loss of life as state authorities announced compensation for the families of the victims and those injured.
The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of more lightning in the next two days. Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September. More than 2,900 people were killed by lightning in India in 2019, according to the most recent official figures available.