Lightning related Deaths

Context: According to the Minister of Earth Sciences, nearly 2,880 people died due to lightning strikes in various states of the country in 2021. More about the news:
  • At least 2,800 people died every year from 2019-2022.
  • Madhya Pradesh (496) reported the greatest number of casualties in 2021, followed by Bihar (287).
  • Despite thousands of casualties, lightning is not a notified disaster listed under the National Disaster Response Fund.
  • The notified list of disasters eligible for National or State Disaster Response Fund assistance, includes 12 disasters:
    • Cyclone, Drought, Earthquake, Fire, Flood, Tsunami, Hailstorm, Landslide, Avalanche, Cloud Burst, Pest Attack, Frost & Cold Wave
Mechanism of Lightning Strikes
  • Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, some of which is directed towards the Earth’s surface.
  • Lightning discharges are generated in giant moisture-bearing clouds that are 10-12 km tall and the base of these clouds typically lies within 1-2 km of the Earth’s surface.
  • Water vapour moves upward in the cloud and the water droplets fall down to Earth.
  • Collisions follow and trigger the release of electrons and as the moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, a chain reaction happens.
  •  This process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged, while the middle layer is negatively charged. In very little time, a massive current, of the order of 100,000 to a million amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • An enormous amount of heat is produced, which gives the air column a reddish appearance during lightning. As the heated air column expands, it produces shock waves that result in thunder.
News Source: DTE,

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