Six Lightning Deaths, Dozens Of Homes Destroyed in Storms

At least six people were killed by lightning this week in storms that destroyed dozens of homes across several provinces, officials said Thursday.

Keo Vy, cabinet chief for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said that the six deaths had occurred between Monday and Wednesday as a result of lightning strikes.

“Lightning is a natural disaster and we are always educating people, especially those in the countryside, to be more careful,” Mr. Vy said. “We also inform them of weather updates from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.”

On Wednesday, Nai Yurath, 38, was killed by lightning while riding his motorcycle in the rain in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district; Say Raya, 25, was struck and killed while fishing for frogs in Poipet City; and an unidentified man and woman were killed by lightning in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district.

On Tuesday, Peth Tharith, 25, was killed by lightning in Samlot district in Battambang province. And on Monday, a 50-year-old man died in a field in Kep province’s Damnak Chang’aur district. A number of others have also been struck by lightning this week and survived.

Mr. Vy said that in the countryside, where the great majority of lightning deaths occur, there are simply not enough safety precautions.

“In Cambodia, 10 percent of government buildings and other tall buildings have lightning rods to protect them,” he said. “But in the countryside, there is no system to keep people safe.”

So far this week, Kompong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kompong Cham, Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces have been affected by storms, Mr. Vy said. In the first four months of the year, lightning has killed 17 people, injured seven others, and killed eight head of cattle.

Cambodia has one of the highest death-by-lightning rates in the world, with 7.8 deaths per million people between 2007 and 2011. The worst year on record for lightning deaths was 2011, when 165 deaths were reported.

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