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'Natural Disaster': Lightning Strikes Kill Over 60 in Bangladesh

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Bangladesh authorities issued warnings on dangerous meteorological activity, as an unprecedented upsurge in lightning strikes have resulted in then deaths of over 60 people across the nation in three days.

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Reports by local newspapers Prothom Alo and Samakal suggest that the death toll across the nation reached 64 as of Saturday.

Government officials confirmed only 59 deaths. They said that 34 of those fatal lighting strikes occurred on Thursday in the country’s capital, Dhaka, while the rest befell the country’s rural areas in the next two days.

Despite that tropical thunders are common for Bangladesh this time of year, known as pre-monsoon season, the rates of fatality have surprised authorities.

“We’ve not seen such a huge number of deaths due to lightning before,” Reaz Ahmed, the head of Bangladesh’s disaster management body, said on Sunday.

He added that a total of 200 Bangladeshis have fallen victims to lightening since 2011.

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Experts from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department said that a spike in deaths is conditioned by the deforestation and people’s exposure to metal equipment.

"Palm and other taller trees usually attract the lightning flashes," Gawher Nayeem Wahr, department’s official, told Voice of America. "But these trees [are] becoming scarce in rural areas.”

Ahmed added that the government is now mulling over branding the event as a natural disaster.

A campaign on preventing the growth of deaths amid upcoming monsoon season is being launched.

“We’ll ask the people not to work in open spaces such as farmland, avoid the use of electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and not to stand under metal electric poles or big trees during lightning,” Ahmed said.

Intensified thunderstorms with lightning bolts always mark the beginning of the monsoon season that usually lasts till September.

Strong tropical storms with lightning regularly hit Bangladesh ahead of and during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September every year.

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