Lightning bolt kills 11 people ‘taking selfies’ in front of 12th century fort in Indian city

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State Disaster Response personnel perform a search operation at a watchtower of the 12th century Amber Fort where 11 people were killed Sunday after being struck by lightning in Jaipur, Rajasthan (AP)
State Disaster Response personnel perform a search operation at a watchtower of the 12th century Amber Fort where 11 people were killed Sunday after being struck by lightning in Jaipur, Rajasthan (AP)

A lightning bolt fatally struck down at least 11 people reportedly taking selfies during a thunderstorm on a watchtower near a 12th century fort in India’s Jaipur city on Sunday.

As many as 27 tourists were on the site close to Amer Fort when lightning struck. Some are suspected to have fallen into the ravine from the watchtower, which is at least 500m from the ground.

“We have got confirmation about the death of 11 people from hospital authorities while another 12-15 persons are injured. Most of them sustained injuries as they jumped off the tower in panic," Jaipur police commissioner Anand Srivastava told media.

Police said nine bodies were found at the spot and most of those dead are youngsters.

Nine others, including children, were killed and 20 more were injured by lightning on the same day when thunderstorms and rains lashed parts of the desert state of Rajasthan.

More than 60 people were killed across India in separate incidents of lightning since Sunday night with 41 people dead in Uttar Pradesh and seven in Madhya Pradesh.

The historic site, which gives a panoramic view of the city, is generally packed with tourists and reopened to the public recently after Covid restrictions were eased.

Lightning bolts struck 41 people across 16 districts of Uttar Pradesh, the largest and most populous Indian state. At least 30 people were injured, UP relief commissioner Ranvir Prasad told ANI.

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Among the total, the highest of 14 people alone were killed in Prayagraj city and five each were killed in Kanpur and Fatehpur districts.

A compensation of Rs 400,000 (£3,869) would be given to the families of those dead by lightning, the Uttar Pradesh government said.

Mr Prasad said lightning also killed 250 animals and injured 20 others.

In Madhya Pradesh, seven people reportedly died due to lightning on Sunday. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s office said in a tweet that a sum of Rs 200,000 (£1,935) would be given to next of kin and those injured would also receive help.

A similar relief fund was announced by Rajasthan state chief minister Ashok Gehlot who said Rs 500,000 (£4,800) would be given to the family of each. An additional sum of Rs 200,000 (£1,935) would be given to next of kin from Mr Modi’s relief fund.

Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, on Monday expressed grief over the deaths caused by lightning in India.

"Saddened to hear about the loss of lives due to lightning strikes in parts of India. My condolences to the families of the deceased," he said in a tweet.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) previously noted that deaths by lightning strikes have almost doubled in the country since the 1960s. Climate crisis was attributed as one of the reasons.

The southern state of Andhra Pradesh recorded 36,749 lightning strikes in just 13 hours in 2018, according to data.

Meanwhile, several incidents of cloud burst were reported in northern states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as monsoon swept region.

In Himachal Pradesh’s tourist attraction Dharamshala, a cloud burst near Bhagsu Nag area triggered flash floods. Visuals showed cars flooding in a powerful stream of water as it ravaged the highly commercial area. Heavy rainfall also led to flooding in several areas of the Himalayan state.

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Three people, including an eight-year-old, were killed in a separate incident at a village in Uttarakhand after their house collapsed in a landslide caused due to heavy rains.

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