Two ITI students died on Monday night after being struck by lightning while they were on the terrace in their house in Anakaputhur, reported The Times of India.
The deceased, Lokesh, (19) and his friend, Kishore, (17), were both studying at a private institute. The two were using their mobile phones when the incident happened, with Lokesh attending a call and Kishore listening to music.
As it was raining, they both decided to climb on to the terrace and sit on a brick holding a huge black umbrella.
Kishore had come to Lokesh’s house for group study. After seeing lightning flashes around 8:28pm, Lokesh’s mother called out to them and asked them to come down. When she could not hear a response, she sent her husband to check and he found both of them lying unconscious.
Lokesh’s parents rushed them to a nearby hospital and the doctor declared them dead on arrival.
The investigating officer told ToI that their umbrellas and mobile phones were half burned and both were found lying in a corner. Both of them had sustained burns on their back and thighs.
A case of accidental death was registered at the Shankar Nagar police station.
Lightning and mobile phones
When lightning strikes the ground or an object on the ground, the discharge occurs in and along the ground surface (not deep into the ground). This creates a dangerous and potentially deadly ground current near the lightning strike.
A lightning strike depends on many factors. Some places are more vulnerable to strikes than others due to the speed of the storm. Lightning need not always strike the highest given point in any area.
According to experts, anyone standing on a high ground, in an open space, near water or near large metallic structures or trees are more vulnerable to lightning strikes.
In 2006 (BBC News and British Medical Journal ), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a statement, saying lightning is not attracted to people carrying mobile phones.
“Cell phones, small metal items, jewellery, etc., do not attract lightning. Nothing attracts lightning. Lightning tends to strike taller objects,” said John Jensenius, a NOAA National Weather Service lightning expert. “People are struck because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. The wrong place is anywhere outside. The wrong time is anytime a thunderstorm is nearby.”