Lightning strike on Bangladeshi gas pipeline kills five
21 March 2018
Lightning hit a gas pipeline and sparked a house fire in Bangladesh's Sylhet district some 240 km northeast of capital Dhaka on March 18, killing five people including three children and two women. AKM Fazlul Haque Shibli, officer-in-charge of Sylhet's Golapganj Police Station, told journalists that the victims, who were asleep inside the single-store tin-shed house, were burnt to death.
He said the fire broke out at around 3:00 a.m. local time in a gas pipeline adjacent to the house of the victims after lightning struck. Two other people were injured in the fire, he added.
Storms accompanied by thunder and lightning are common during the March-July season in Bangladesh and their numbers are increasing, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
The government declared lightning a major disaster after 217 people were killed by strikes in 2016 alone, with 62 reportedly killed in the first half of 2017.
Experts believe a lack of lightning conductors and prevention systems on buildings is one major cause, even though they are mandatory under the Bangladesh National Building Code.
Another is that people living in rural areas are more vulnerable than in the past because of rapid deforestation. The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief is currently undertaking a project to plant one million palm trees across rural areas in Bangladesh as a preventive measure.
A further factor, according to experts quoted by the Dhaka Tribune, is that the increase in minute particles in the atmosphere over the country because of air pollution was giving rise to an increase in the number of thunderstorms hitting Bangladesh.