Lightning strike kills 11 taking selfies in India

A lightning strike killed at least 11 people and injured many more in Jaipur in northern India on Sunday.

The victims were taking selfies in the rain on top of a watch tower at the city’s 12th Century Amer Fort, a popular tourist attraction.

Twenty-seven people were on the tower and the wall of the fort when the incident happened and some reportedly jumped to the ground.

Lightning strikes kill some 2,000 Indians on average every year.

A senior police officer told the media that most of the people among the dead at the fort’s tower were young.

Sunday alone saw nine more deaths from lightning strikes reported across Rajasthan state where Jaipur is located, according to local media reports.

The state’s chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, has announced 500,000 rupees ($6,700; £4,800) as compensation for the families of those who have died.

India’s monsoon season, which sees heavy rains, typically lasts from June to September.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that deaths by lightning strikes have doubled in the country since the 1960s – one of the reasons they cited was the climate crisis.

The data says that lightning incidents too have increased by 30%-40% since the early- to mid-1990s. In 2018 the southern state of Andhra Pradesh recorded 36,749 lightning strikes in just 13 hours.

Officials say they are more common in areas with thinner tree cover, leaving people vulnerable to being struck.

Safety tips when lightning strikes

  • Seek shelter inside a large building or a car
  • Get out of wide, open spaces and away from exposed hilltops
  • If you have nowhere to shelter, make yourself as small a target as possible by crouching down with your feet together, hands on knees and head tucked in
  • Do not shelter beneath tall or isolated trees
  • If you are on water, get to the shore and off wide, open beaches as quickly as possible

BBC.com