By Odisha Story Bureau, Bhubaneswar:
At least 45 persons were killed by lightning in the state and 50 others were injured on Saturday and Sunday, official sources said. While 40 died on Saturday, five lost their lives on Sunday. The Indian Meteorological department (IMD) has forecasted heavy rain in the state till August 6 resulting in flood like situations in Mahanadi, Bansadhara and Rushikulya rivers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Naveen Patnaik expressed grief over the tragedy.
The unfortunate loss of lives due to lightning in Odisha is saddening. Deepest condolences to the families of the deceased: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 31, 2016
— CMO Odisha (@CMO_Odisha) July 31, 2016
Officials associated with disaster management in the state have claimed it is the highest human casualties in lightning within such a short span of time. “Forty cattle died of lightning in Keonjhar district last year. But such high human casualties is unprecedented in recent history in the state,” said Pravat Ranjan Mohapatra, deputy relief commissioner.
According to the government sources, eight persons died in Balasore district, seven each in Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak, six in Khurda, four each in Cuttack and Jajpur, three in Dhenkanal, two in Nabrangpur and one each in Keonjhar and Kendrapada.
The IMD attributed the unusually high lightning deaths to three days of dry spell heating the air mass amid extreme humidity. It resulted in formation of “cumulonimbus clouds,” which generally causes lightning, said IMD Bhubaneswar director Sarat Chandra Sahu.
With effect from this year, Odisha has announced lightning as a state-specific disaster. The state government provides Rs 4 lakh each to next of kin of deceased of lightning and free medical treatment to the injured.
Weathermen said the state is likely to witness heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next few days under the influence of a low pressure area formed over the Bay of Bengal. “Under the influence of the upper air cyclonic circulation over east-central Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood, a low pressure area has formed over northeast, adjoining northwest and east-central Bay of Bengal,” said the latest IMD bulletin issued on Sunday.
The low pressure will trigger moderate to heavy rain mainly in north and coastal parts of the state in the next 48 hours and its intensity will increase thereafter. “The low pressure is likely to intensify further and may turn into depression and deep depression by August 3 and would lead to heavy to very heavy rain in most parts of the state,” said Sahu.
Heavy rain will lash mainly Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Malkangiri and Koraput districts causing flood like situation in Mahanadi, Bansadhara and Rushikulya rivers, the IMD sources said.
Gusty surface wind speed reaching 35 to 45 kmph gusting 50 kmph may prevail along and off south Odisha coast in the next 24 hours. Sea condition would be rough along south Odisha coast and fishermen have been cautioned not to venture into the sea, IMD bulletin said.
Puri recorded the maximum of 85 mm rainfall between 8.30 am to 5.30 pm on Sunday. Chandbali recorded 69 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours ending at 8.30 am on Sunday followed by 44 mm at Phulbani, 41.2 mm at Koraput, and 30.6 mm at Hirakud. Twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar recorded 20.6 mm and 24.6 mm during that period respectively.