UTTAR PRADESH, India: Police in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have said that seven people, mostly farmers, were killed by lightning in a village in the northern part of the state, bringing the death toll by lightning to 49 people in the state this week.
According to police officer Hem Raj Meena, the farmers, included four members of a family and some cattle grazers near the city of Kaushambi, had taken shelter under trees during a drenching monsoon rain when they were struck by lightning and died instantly.
Atate government spokesperson Shishir Singh said the local government subsequently issued new guidelines for how people can protect themselves during lightning storms.
"People are dying more from lightning than rain-related incidents, though this is the time when people typically die of floods or other rain incidents," Singh addd.
India's monsoon season runs from June through September.
Col. Sanjay Srivastava from the Lightning India Resilient Campaign, which works with the Indian Meteorological Department, said that since April lightning has killed nearly 750 people across India, including 20 people who died in eastern Bihar in the past two days and 16 in Madhya Pradesh state in central India earlier this month.
J P Gupta, director of the Meteorological Department, said this year's thunderstorms and lightning have increased due to rising pollution levels, stating, "High ground temperature leads to evaporation from water bodies that adds moisture to the atmosphere. The presence of aerosols due to air pollution creates favorable conditions for thunderclouds to trigger lightning activity."