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Kingdom’s lightning deaths spike in 2015

Two bolts of lightning strike the ground near Phnom Penh during a thunder storm last year.
Two bolts of lightning strike the ground near Phnom Penh during a thunder storm last year. Hong Menea

Kingdom’s lightning deaths spike in 2015

Deaths from lightning strikes jumped 42.6 per cent year-to-year in 2015, with 107 people killed and another 77 injured across the Kingdom, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the National Committee for Disaster Management.

The numbers represent a marked increase from 2014, when 75 people died and 55 were injured.

Keo Vy, the NCDM spokesman, yesterday blamed climate change for more frequent and intense storms that increase people’s chances of being struck.

“Last year, we have seen more extreme weather during the rainy season,” said Vy. “More storms mean more lightning.”

Ian Thomas, an adviser with the Mekong River Commission, said that last year’s powerful El Niño cycle made dry season droughts longer and rainy season storms more violent.

High ocean temperatures associated with El Niño are expected to persist into 2016, likely bringing more of the same in this year’s rainy season, he said.

Property damage also increased, with nine houses being severely damaged by lightning in 2015, compared to five in 2014. On the other hand, the number of injured cattle dropped from 58 to 40.

The three most dangerous provinces for lightning in 2014 were Battambang, Bantey Meanchey and Pursat. In 2015, Battambang remained in the top three, with 10 lightning deaths, but Takeo edged its way to the top with 14 deaths, while Prey Veng was second with 12 deaths.

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