At least 147 people have been killed by lightning over the past 10 days in India, officials said on Sunday, attributing the recent harsh weather to climate change.
In total, around 215 people have died from strikes in Bihar, India’s poorest state, the officials said.
“I was informed by weather experts, scientists and officials that rising temperatures due to climate change is the main cause behind the increasing lightning strikes,” AFP quotes Bihar’s Disaster Management Minister Lakshmeshwar Rai.
Rai confirmed that of those killed by lightning, 25 people died on Saturday.
The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of more lightning in the next 48 hours.
According to AFP, lightning strikes during the annual monsoon that runs from June to September are fairly common in India.
But officials said this year’s toll in Bihar has already surpassed the total number of deaths recorded annually for the state over the past few years, even though the monsoon season has just started.
Last year, 170 people were killed in lightning strikes during the monsoon period.
In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, just over 200 people have been struck and killed by lightning since April, according to officials.
More than 2,300 people were killed by lightning in India in 2018 according to the National Crime Records Bureau, the most recent figures available.
The monsoon is crucial to replenishing water supplies in South Asia, but also causes widespread death and destruction across the region each year.