In the tragic incident, some victims were buried beneath the collapsed wall hit by lightning.
According to reports, at least 18 people were killed and several others were injured when lightning struck Amer Fort, a famous tourist attraction in Jaipur, northern India, on Sunday evening. When the fatal accident happened, the people present in the 12th-century fort mainly were busy taking selfies amidst the rain.
"There was a tower there. When the lightning struck, the tower's wall collapsed, many people were buried under it. Since the fort is on a hill, when the debris was falling and space reduced, some people also fell into a ditch," reported Shankar Lal Saini, a senior disaster management official in Jaipur.
Built by Raja Man Singh, the Amer Fort is one of the most famous forts of Rajasthan. The fort is known for its beautiful architectural layout and is often crowded with locals and tourists. On the fateful evening, roughly 27 people were standing on the watchtower, and many jumped to the ground as the electricity collapsed the wall.
Amer Fort at night, credit Outlook Traveller(outlookindia.com)
"Many people died in front of our eyes. If people had gotten help and authorities had reached on time then [they would have been alive]," said an eyewitness. "We brought many people down. We rescued the people who were still alive, those who were still breathing and pulled some people out of the gorge."
According to Saini, police and civil defense force officials were performing rescue operations until 7 a.m. Monday. "Because it is a hilly area and there are a lot of trees the rescue teams kept looking till morning in case anyone is left behind but now all people have been accounted for," explained Saini. The recovered victims were taken to Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur, where at least 18 were declared dead including women and children.
The Prime Minister of India expressed his condolences on Twitter for the bereaved families.
PM @narendramodi has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF to the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to lightning in parts of Rajasthan. Rs. 50,000 would be provided to the injured.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 12, 2021
Saddened by the loss of lives due to lightning in parts of Madhya Pradesh. The State Government will provide all possible assistance to the affected. From the PMNRF, Rs. 2 lakh would be given to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 would be given to the injured: PM Modi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 12, 2021
Nine more deaths by lighting were reported in separate incidents nearby Jaipur on Sunday. In India, two other states, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, also reported several deaths due to lightning. While Uttar Pradesh recorded 41 deaths, Madhya Pradesh suffered at least 7 losses.
Northern India experiences a stormy season from June through September. According to experts, states where the majority of the population work outdoors often have more casualties due to lightning compared to other states. India reports at least 2,000 deaths annually due to lightning, especially in rural, agricultural lands.
According to Indian Meteorological Department, in recent years, the frequency of lightning strikes has increased exponentially in India, mostly due to climate crises. The department has predicted more strikes in the coming days.
Lightning strikes in northern India last week, credit Saqib Majeed (Shutterstock)
What to do when lightning strikes:
- Take shelter inside a building or vehicle instead of tall trees
- Get out of wide, open, exposed areas
- Stay away from water bodies or waterlogged areas to avoid the risk of electrocution
Have you ever witnessed a bolt of lightning nearby? Share your experience in the comments below.