Hazardous weather has killed at least 36 people in northern India over the past 24 hours, including 12 who who were struck by lightning, officials said as they warned of more heavy downpours in the coming days.
Across the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, at least 24 people died after their homes collapsed amid unrelenting rains, Relief Commissioner Ranvir Prasad said.
Mohamed Usman, 15, was on his friend’s roof in the city of Prayagraj when lightning struck Friday evening, killing him instantly. His friend Aznan, who goes by one name, was injured and is being treated in a hospital.
“As soon as they set foot on the roof, they were hit by lightning and my son died,” said Mohammad Ayub, Usman’s father.
Officials said 39 people in the state have died from lightning in the last five days, prompting authorities to issue new guidelines for how people can protect themselves during a thunderstorm.
Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
Col. Sanjay Srivastava, whose organization Lightning Resilient India Campaign works with the Indian Meteorological Department, said that deforestation, the depletion of bodies of water, and pollution all contribute to climate change, which leads to more lightning.
Global warming has also increased the frequency of lightning, said Sunita Narain, director general at the Center for Science and Environment. A 1-degree-Celsius (1.8-degree-Fahrenheit) rise in temperature increases lightning by 12 times.
There has been a 34% rise in lightning strikes across India over the past year, which has caused deaths to also jump. India recorded 1,489 deaths due to lightning in 2016, and the number grew to 2,869 in 2021, according to Srivastava.