Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper

Government is not doing enough to prevent rising toll of death by lightning

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COUNTRY has seen an alarming rise in deaths caused by lightning strikes in the recent years, yet the government could not devise an effective plan to help reduce the risk. At least 150 people died due to lightning strikes in one month since April 17 this year. We remember, the government had declared lightning a major disaster after 217 people were killed by strikes in 2016 alone. But no visible step was taken by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and deaths have not yet stopped. The government has also no plans to prevent lightning-caused injuries and deaths for the interim period. We fear the causalities would significantly increase in the coming monsoon.
According to experts, a lack of preventive measures is a major reason for the high death rates caused by lightning. The people living in the rural and haor areas are the most vulnerable to lightning strikes because of massive deforestation. On the other hand, the people in urban areas are vulnerable to lightning as most buildings do not have a lightning prevention system, even though it is mandatory under Bangladesh National Building Code. Though some old buildings have metal rods or objects to divert lightning strikes, most of the new buildings do not have such mechanisms, the experts opined.
 The thunderstorms are most common during March-July. Here, very short-range weather forecasting using the 'nowcasting' method is essential. Besides, the people should get updates every hour when a thunderstorm occurs. Our Met office has good radar coverage; they can help people stay safe by issuing emergency bulletins.  
But first of all, it needs to create awareness among the people specifically in the rural areas. Side by side, the towers of mobile operators should be brought under earthing system. We are surprised why the government is not taking stringent measures to prevent the rising death toll by lightning.

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