A lightning strike reportedly killed 16 people Sunday and injured others while they took selfies in northern India amid dozens of lightning-related fatalities.
The victims were killed by lightning at around 7:30 p.m. while standing on top of a watch tower in the 12th Century Amer Fort located in the city of Jaipur, according to BBC. Authorities rescued 29 people at the site with the help of local residents, Jaipur Police Commissioner Anand Srivastava told Scroll.in. Amer Station House Officer Shivnarayan said the majority of the deceased were young people.
Lightning strikes killed at least 68 people overall across the provinces of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, India Today reported. One lighting strike killed nine people in Rajasthan state, where Jaipur is located, according to BBC.
Uttar Pradesh had 41 fatalities from lightning strikes across its several districts as of Monday, according to India Today. The highest death toll amounted to 14 deaths in the Prayagraj district, Scroll.in reported. The risk of death from lightning is higher in places with thinner tree coverings, increasing the chance of getting struck, officials told BBC. (RELATED: 15-Year-Old Killed By Lightning Strike While Swimming On Vacation)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly announced Monday that the victims’ families will receive government compensation, including $50,000 for those injured.
The Prime Minister was briefed about the loss of lives and damages due to lightning in parts of Uttar Pradesh. An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 would be given to the injured.
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 12, 2021
India has witnessed a surge in fatalities from lightning strikes which have doubled since the 1960s, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said, according to BBC. Lightning incidents have increased by nearly 30%-40% in the same time period. The IMD partly attributed the rise in lightning to climate change, BBC reported.
Experts said the high cases of death is a result of a large number of people working outdoor jobs including agriculture and construction, BBC reported. Heavy rains and lightning typically last from June to September, India’s monsoon season.