© Johannes Plenio
The National Emergency Operation Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs has appealed all to adopt necessary safety and precautionary measures to minimise lightning risks, both indoors and outdoors.

The appeal was made in the wake of frequent deaths and injuries from lightning across the country. According to NEOC, Prakash Raut was killed and two others injured after being struck by lightning in Mechinagar Rural Municipality-15, Jhapa, yesterday. Three persons were injured after lightning struck them while they were using mobile phones outside their house in Baitadi district.

Although the country has witnessed deaths caused by lightning in all geographical regions, casualty is higher in central and eastern hills and eastern Tarai.

Lightning mainly occurs before the onset of and immediately after rain due to natural electrical discharge in the atmosphere and due to the imbalance between positive and negative charges, according to Nepal Disaster Report. Maximum people are killed by thunderbolt in the months of February, March, April, June, July, August and September.

Statistics provided by NEOC suggest that lightning has emerged as one of the deadliest natural disasters in recent times. It has emerged as the second cause of casualties preceded by the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake of 25 April 2015, and its subsequent aftershocks that claimed 8,977 lives and injured 22,462 people.

As many as 773 persons were killed and 1,695 were injured due to lightning in the past seven years. Deaths and injuries from lightning stand at 59 and 317, respectively, from April 14 to March 21 this year. NEOC said on an average 82 persons are killed by lightning every year.

National Emergency Operation Centre warns that lightning hits the tallest objects on the earth's surface and passes through them to the ground, making trees particularly hazardous to take shelter during rainfall. NEOC suggested that one should avoid using electronic equipment and mobile phones during lightning. Of the other precautionary measures, one should close doors and window, avoid taking bath and washing dishes from running taps, during rainfall.

It also advised all to stay indoors when thunder roars. The Disaster Victim Rescue and Relief Standards (Sixth Amendment) requires District Disaster Relief Committees to provide a cash relief of Rs 100,000 to the grieving family of each victim killed in thunderstorm. According to the standards, the government also bears the cost incurred for the treatment of those injured in lightning at government hospitals.