At least 16 people were killed and over a dozen injured on Wednesday when lightning struck a wedding party on a boat in northwestern Bangladesh, officials said.
The incident took place at Shibganj sub-district bordering India in Chapainawabganj district. The groom was among the 12 persons injured.
“Several lightning bolts within few seconds hit the boat carrying the wedding party revellers, killing 16 of them instantly,” Chief Administrative Officer Sakib Al Rabby told reporters at Shibganj.
The bride was not with the wedding party, he said.
Rabby said the mishap took place as the revellers were disembarking from the boat one by one to take refuge at a shelter due to sudden monsoon rains that brought with it the unexpected thunderbolts.
The bridegroom survived the disaster, but he was injured along with 11 others, the officer said, adding that the wounded are being treated at a government hospital with burn wounds.
Lightning strikes, especially in monsoon season, kill hundreds of people every year in Bangladesh. The country in 2016 declared lightning strikes a natural disaster, though many thunderstorm deaths are never officially recorded.
In 2016, over 200 people, including 82 on a single day, died in the month of May alone due to lightning strikes. Most of them were farmers and died while working in their fields.
Experts attribute the rise in fatal lightning strikes to deforestation. According to them tall trees would have drawn lightning strikes.
The monsoon rains in recent weeks have ravaged southeastern Cox”s Bazar, leaving 20 people dead, including six Rohingya refugees.