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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lightning deaths in 2009 so far surpass total for all of last year

Lightning deaths in 2009 so far surpass total for all of last year

Experts say lightning has become a more frequent occurrence due to climate change, and that the danger of being struck is as great as ever.

LIGHTNING strikes have killed more people so far in 2009 than in all of 2008, Keo Vy, a communications officer at the National Committee for Disaster Management, told the Post Monday.

In the first six months of 2009, lightning killed 100 people in Cambodia and injured 39. Last year, there were 95 lightning deaths and 22 injuries.

Officials said they were working to distribute information about how to avoid being hit by lightning, particularly in rural areas.  

"The most important thing is that when we receive information [relating to a storm], we broadcast the information through the television to let

people in provinces and districts know which areas will get hit by a storm with rain and lighting," said Phang Sareth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.

Phang Sareth also said the ministry handed out brochures teaching people about lightning safety tips.

The ministry's brochure advises people to leave flooded zones when they see thunderclouds above them. It also encourages them to stay more than 4 metres away from trees during thunderstorms and to avoid carrying metal objects that could become lightning rods.

   When we receive information ... [we] let people know which areas will get hit.

Phang Sareth blamed the increase in lightning deaths on global climate change.

"The temperature in our nation and others all over the world is increasing annually," he said, adding that this made lightning more frequent.  

Keo Vy said the risk of being struck by lightning in Cambodia will remain high until the end of the rainy season in September or October.



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