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Government campaign to boost lightning awareness

Government campaign to boost lightning awareness

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An electrical storm rages over Phnom Penh. The death toll from lightning strike has risen this year.

Banners warning the public of lightning strikes to be posted throughout the Kingdom as deaths this year reach 135, a 42pc rise over 2008's total

A PUBLIC information campaign aimed at warning people over the dangers of lightning is about to begin, government officials said Monday as the number of reported deaths from strikes so far this year climbed to 135.

That number compares with a total of 95 lightning deaths reported last year, said Keo Vy, a communications officer with the National Committee for Disaster Management.

In addition, some 151 people this year have been severely hurt by lightning, which has also killed 36 domestic cattle throughout the country.
"Now we are organising banners to educate people throughout the country in order for them to know how to protect themselves against lightning," Keo Vy said.

"We cannot stop lightning," he said, adding that the banners will be distributed in districts throughout the country.

Seth Vannareth, deputy general inspector and director of Department of Meteorology, said that lightning strikes occur mostly between May and October.

But she said that the number of reported lightning strikes did not appear to be increasing.

Seth Vannareth attributed the apparent rise in deaths to better reporting from provincial and district officials and the rising use of electrical appliances.

"Nowadays, Cambodian people are using more appliances like telephones, televisions, radios and so on, without taking care of lightning," she said.

"People lack the knowledge to protect themselves from lightning.... Do not use the phone or turn on the radio in the middle of a rice field during a rain storm," she added.

"Do not stand under trees during a rain storm, or hold onto metal objects."

Surge protection
Earlier this year a private company began importing products to protect people and property from lightning strikes after recent wet seasons saw electrical storms increase, a shift that experts attribute to climate change.

Officials with the company Dynamic E-Group Limited (DEG) said a reported increase in lightning deaths had prompted them to begin importing lightning-protection devices.

They said DEG's Voltage and Surge Protection Systems, imported from Spain, were designed to be installed in buildings to prevent lightning strikes within a radius of about 120 metres.

The new devices, however, do not come cheaply. Prach Meanith, product manager at DEG, said the price would depend on the size of the building in question but noted that a unit for a three-storey building measuring 6 metres by 12 metres would cost around US$2,000.

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