Lightning is posing a serious threat to human lives in Mayurbhanj district as it has claimed 147 lives here in the last four years, a report said.

According to reports available from the district emergency office, lightning has claimed 147 lives between April, 2015 and April, 2019. A glance at the report tells us that lightning is most severe in July.

Five persons died and four persons were rendered critical by lightning in Betanoti, Baisinga, Badasahi and Khunta areas of the district, July 20, 2018.

Four persons were killed and two were injured after lightning struck them July 7, 2017. The report says that the death toll has remained high in July in the past several years.

This happened due to lack of awareness among people as they mostly remain outdoors instead of moving to safe places when lightning strikes, district emergency officer Sujay Kumar Pati said.

Sources said many lives were lost due to lightning and houses and properties worth crores are also destroyed every year by lightning. The government pays a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to each affected family.

However, with superstition high in this tribal district, people prefer to visit a sorcerer rather than a hospital if their kin is struck by lightning.

The death of a minor girl in Digadhar village under Thakurmunda block July 30, 2016 is an example. Her family thinking that she may return to life buried her in a compost pit for over four hours as per the advice of a sorcerer.

The drama came to an end after police reached the spot and sent the body for post-mortem. Moreover, people harbour many wrong notions like electric current will be flowing through the body of a person who has been struck by lightning. They fear to touch a person hit by lightning or take him to hospital.

However, the reality is that the current immediately gets discharged as soon as a person is struck by lightning. The affected person should be immediately taken to hospital, weather expert Manas Behera said.

Behera said lightning occurs when charged clouds come near each other. Lightning has a power of 100 million to one billion volts. The current travels from cloud to cloud and sometimes from cloud to earth.

Lightning not only kills, but also disables. One should not remain in the open during thunderstorms, and should stay inside houses or any other safe place, he said.

A person must close all doors, windows and switch off power connection during a thunderstorm. One should not remain under a tree, utility pole or near a tower, Behera said. People must also stay away from wet places during a thunderstorm, he added.

Observers said the government should launch an awareness programme to sensitise people about the hazards of lightning.