Lightning second reason for deaths during 2023 monsoon season

Met Office recently acquired 25 lightning detection sensors worth from China which will be installed throughout country

Sunday, December 03, 2023
Lightning flashing over the city of Islamabad, Pakistan, during a thunderstorm. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: As many as 41 people died from lightning during rains andthunderstorms during the monsoon rains in Pakistan this year, making it the second leading cause of death, The News reported Sunday citing officials.

“Of the 226 people killed in rain-related incidents across Pakistan till September 30, 2023, around 41 people died in lightning strikes throughout the country while dozens others were injured. Hundreds of livestock were also killed in lightning strikes across Pakistan,” an official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said.

Citing data from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the PMD official said the leading cause of death during rains and thunderstorms was the collapse of roofs and walls, which killed 96 people while the second leading cause of death during rains was lightning strikes.

In the wake of increasing incidents of lightning strikes in Pakistan, the Met Office has acquired 25 lightning detection sensors worth $1 million from China which will be installed throughout the country. PMD officials believe that the Chinese detectors will improve the lightning strike warning capability and prevent the loss of human lives and livestock.

Giving details of the lightening incidents, the PMD official said the highest number of lightening-related deaths were reported from Punjab where 19 people were killed in lightning strikes including 10 in Narowal, five in Sialkot, and two each in Sheikhupura and Lahore this year.

Similarly, 12 people were killed in Sindh due to lightning strikes including five in Badin, four in Tharparkar, and one each in Shikarpur, Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas districts.

Five people were killed because of lightning incidents including two in Lower Kohistan and one each in Mansehra, Shangla and South Waziristan.

Three people were killed in Balochistan due to lightning strikes including one each in Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar and Kharan, the PMD official added. Two people, one each in Gilgit Baltistan and Kotli district of Azad Kashmir were also killed due to lightning strikes during rains, he added.

PMD Director General Mahr Sahibzad Khan had earlier said this week that the frequency of lightning incidents had increased across Pakistan, which resulted in the loss of precious lives and livestock, compelling them to acquire Chinese detectors to help improve their lightning warning capability.

The cost of all lightning systems is around $1 million but it is being provided free of cost, the PMD DG said, adding that Chinese engineers were also helping the department with their installation and degradation.

Khan said they were also acquiring a long-range lightning detector from China in the coming weeks, to predict such incidents up to 1,400 kilometres. They would cover the entire Pakistan and help generate timely warnings.

In July this year, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, provided a 3D lightning detection system to the PMD to enhance its lightning warning capability. It was successfully tested at the PMD head office and data transmission was established with the cloud server. It shows real-time lightning data including the location of lightning, its intensity, and spatial distribution.