Authorities say lightning killed three people on Wednesday in separate incidents in Battambang, Kompong Cham and Stung Treng provinces, bringing the total number of lightning deaths for the year to 75, according to the National Center for Disaster Management.
However the figure was still lower than the number killed in the first half of 2009, when 100 people died, said Keo Vy, deputy director of the NCDM’s information and relations department.
“This year it is less than last year because the rains are small and late,” he said. According to the NCDM, 140 people died in 2009 due to lightning, and 95 died in 2008.
Mr Vy said prevention efforts for lightning had mainly focused on educating farmers how about avoiding lightning but not on the more expensive options such as installing lightning rods.
“In other countries, they have the equipment to set in public space to protect against lightning but we don’t have the ability to do so,” he said.
In Kompong Cham on Wednesday, lightning struck and killed 16-year-old Moa Ouk as she tended cattle in a rice field during a thunderstorm, said Men Vey deputy police chief in Batheay district’s Troap commune.
Lightning struck three other people near her, leaving them unconscious for two hours, but they survived, he said.
He said poverty and logistics played a role in lightning deaths for farmers.
“It is hard for the farmer to go back home when it rains because it is necessary to work on the farm and it is hard for the children who tend the cattle far from their village to get home during a storm,” he said.
In Battambang on Wednesday afternoon, lightning struck and killed 40-year-old Yoeun Yorn as she harvested peanuts in Banan district’s Tak Kream commune, said district police chief Buth Sambo.
“The lightning is really strong this year,” he said
In a separate case, lightning killed a 38-year-old man named Say as he worked on a rubber plantation in Stung Treng province’s Sesan district.
“He was struck when light rain began,” said deputy district police chief Him Bunthy.
NCDM’s count of lightning deaths during the first six months of the year, 62, exceeds statistics on landmine deaths supplied by the Cambodian Mine Action Center.
Nearly 30 died during that period, according to Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC. One hundred fifty-eight were injured or killed, he said.
“If we compared 2010 to 2009, it increased by ten cases,” he said.