Lightning struck and killed two sisters in Kompong Cham province’s Kang Meas district last week, bringing the total number of lightning fatalities reported so far this year to 50, government officials said yesterday.
Hout Lina, 17, and Hout Kannhar, 13, were killed by lightning while tending cattle in a paddy field in Khchao commune, district police chief So Sarith said.
Shortly after the sisters left their house at 3.30 pm the sky darkened, rain began to fall and lightning hit them, Sarith said.
“Lightning can strike our villagers even though they stay in houses,” Khchao commune chief Thoang Roum said, noting that last year two people in the district were killed by lightning inside their homes.
People should protect themselves by not using mobile phones, switching off their televisions and unplugging electric appliances, said Keo Vy, deputy director of the National Committee of Disaster Management.
“We are noting the increase of lightning [deaths] and our high level officials are paying attention to the issue…. [It] could be a result of climate change,” Mr Vy said. From the start of this year until Friday, 33 people have also been injured in lightning strikes.
In 2009 140 people were killed by lightning, up from 95 deaths from lightning in 2008.