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Lightning kills nine puja event organisers

Howrah, April 29: Nine persons died when lightning struck a hut in which they had taken shelter during a thunderstorm in Howrah’s Udaynarayanpur this afternoon.

All those who died and seven others who suffered burns were members of a local club decorating a pandal for a cultural event in Uttar Harishpur village.

Eyewitness Basudeb Malik said: “The members of the Sitalamata New Kishalay Sangha had organised a Raksha Kali puja at the village temple yesterday. Around 4.30pm today, the club members were decorating a pandal for a cultural programme to mark the puja when the thunderstorm began. The club members rushed into a hut adjacent to the temple. After some time, lightning struck the hut.”

Villagers rushed to the hut from nearby fields and took 16 affected people to Udaynarayanpur State General Hospital on motorised cycle vans and trekkers.

The nine were declared dead on arrival. Hospital superintendent Dayaram Samanta said: “They died of shock.”

Sub-divisional police officer Shyamal Kumar Samanta said most of the victims lost consciousness immediately after the lightning struck, while the remaining lay groaning on the hut floor.

Those killed were identified as Tilakbala Porel, 70, Labkush Porel, 40, Bidyut Dhara, 30, Nemai Dolui, 60, Shyamsundar Mullick, 20, Banya Porel, 20, Bhola Dhara, 17, Bhim Porel, 45, and Bharat Porel, 35.