At least 54 killed in thunderstorms across Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, MP

Storms and lightning across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bengal killed at least 54 people in the past 24 hours, officials said on Tuesday, taking the toll from freak weather this month to around 290.
Two people died in Bengal’s Malda district during heavy rain and thundershower on Monday night.Anima Ghosh, 40, died in the Englishbazar area when a big tree fell on the three-wheeler in which she was returning home from work. In another incident, Anup Saha, 35, died in the Rathbari area when part of an old building collapsed and the debris fell on him.
Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, senior climate scientist with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the national capital, said the frequency of thunderstorms and lightning appears to have increased this year because of multiple factors. “The long dry spell and hot weather conditions increasing the surface temperature combined with unusually high western disturbances and cyclonic activity have contributed to this,” he said.In three major thunderstorm and lightning incidents reported on May 4, May 16 and May 28, mostly in north-western India, the combined death figure is 286. Of this, 50 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours; 17from Uttar Pradesh, 19 from Bihar, 12 from Jharkhand and four from Madhya Pradesh.
According to the information released by Uttar Pradesh state government, six people died and three others sustained injuries in Unnao when two houses collapsed in a thunderstorm. Three people died in Rae Bareli while two deaths each were reported from Kanpur, Pilibhit, Gonda and Sitapur. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, most of the deaths were reported from Bundelkhand region.In Bihar, Gaya and Aurangabad districts reported five deaths each, while four died in Munger, three in Katihar three and two in Nawada, said Bihar disaster management department (DMD) officials. Jharkhand, which has seen 29 thunder storm related deaths this month including 12 overnight, is expected to be hit by more storms in the coming days.
The Met office has predicted storms and lightning till onset of monsoon by mid-June. Patna-based IMD official Anand Shanker said the easterly wind during the day had carried moisture from the Bay of Bengal after a trough developed over the region from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar.“Smart showers, which came with thundershower, are beneficial for fruit crops like guava, litchi, mango as they expedite their ripening process by about 10 days,” said agriculture scientist Hemant Kumar Singh at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kishanganj.Jharkhand’s special secretary disaster management Ashok Kumar said the only way to prevent lightning deaths was through an alert system on which they were working.