Pre-monsoon thunderstorms and lightning strikes in Bangladesh have killed dozens of Bangladeshis, officials reported on Thursday.
A director at Bangladesh’s disaster management department, Iftekharul Islam told AFP, most of the victims were Farmers, who were harvesting rice in open fields.
“In the last 24 hours, 29 people have died from lightning in 12 districts. Almost all of them are farmers,” he said.
Every year scores of people are killed by lightning in Bangladesh during the wet season, between April and October, however, reports indicate that his year the toll has been exceptionally high.
Islam said that more than 112 people had been killed in strikes in the first 10 days of May.
“Every day 10-12 people are dying from lightning,” he explained, adding that it was instilling fear in farmers who harvest rice during this time of the year.
Authorities declared lightning a natural disaster after 82 people were killed in a single day in May 2016.
Independent monitors estimated that some 349 Bangladeshis died from lightning that year.
Experts say deaths are rising as Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest nations, witnesses the increased deforestation of rural areas.
Farmers are known to chop down trees to free up space to grow more rice.
Disaster management officials are trying to reduce the high death toll by planting five million palm trees to provide better shelter.
“We have already planted 3.8 million palm trees. But the trees take years to grow tall,” said Islam.
Bangladeshi officials say a similar tree-planting programme in Thailand has yielded results.