Lightning was responsible for 15 deaths from March 1 through May 1, killing 50 percent fewer people than during the same period last year, a government official said yesterday.
Keo Vy, deputy director of the department of information and relations at the National Committee for Disaster Management, said the number of deaths rose to 15 when a man in Battambang province was killed by a lightning strike Saturday.
Mr Vy said lightning during March and April last year killed 30 people.
“This year the number of people killed by lightning reduced compared to last year because the occasional rains are less than last year,” he said, adding that officials were still concerned that lightning had become more frequent and dangerous in recent years.
The NCDM has reported that 140 people were killed in 2009 and 95 in 2008 by lightning.
Prime Minister Hun Sen in early April warned the public to take measures to prevent being struck by lightning now that the wet season has started.
Mr Vy said that in addition to the lightning deaths, 30 storms had wreaked havoc during the first four months of the year, destroying 228 houses, killing two people and injuring 12 others, while another 967 houses, 12 schools and one health center had been damaged by the storms.
He said storms had been more destructive compared to the same period last year, although he could not remember the number of houses destroyed by storms from January to April 2009.
“The number of storms…is similar to the past year, but it seems stronger because when it happened it destroyed and affected a lot of houses,” Mr Vy said.
Buth Sambo, police chief of Banan district, Battambang province, said farmer Kuy Voeun, 60, had been plowing his field in Phnom Sampov commune Saturday afternoon when it suddenly started raining and lightning struck, killing Mr Voeun instantly.