By Nqobile Tshili
Six people including four pupils at one school died after they were struck by lightning over the weekend.
The fatalities were recorded in Matabeleland South’s Umzingwane District and in Chinhoyi.
The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has said communities should be empowered with scientific knowledge about lightning strikes to save lives.
The Meteorological Services Department had predicted last week that there would be heavy rains coupled with violent thunderstorms.
In an interview, CPU director Mr Nathan Nkomo yesterday said two of the victims died at a homestead in Umzingwane District on Saturday while the four others were pupils at a school in Chinhoyi.
“Of major concern during this rainfall season is the statistics of people being struck by lightning. I’m sure you have heard about the Chinhoyi one where four students were struck by lightning. I’m sure you’ve heard about the Umzingwane one where two people were also struck by lightning.
“In Umzingwane the lightning also destroyed the hut where the deceased were housed,” said Mr Nkomo.
Mr Nkomo said although six fatalities had been reported over the weekend, more cases could have gone unreported.
“We now need a scientific approach on these lightning strikes. Lightning is associated with a lot of superstition. But we want to allay all those things because it is the highest point which is normally struck by lightning,” said Mr Nkomo.
He said another problem that makes rural houses affected by lightning is that they do not have lightning conductors.
Mr Nkomo said some of the lightning disasters could be avoided if societies are equipped with information.
“Our motto is very clear disaster management starts with information.
“We need to educate our people on the hazards associated with the rainy season, that’s number one. Number two, we need to draw some lessons, we have already drawn some from such mishaps so that in case of lightning we also put some measures, to ensure that when lightning strikes it does at a certain point,” said Mr Nkomo.
He said the ideal situation is that when lightning strikes, it should not kill people and destroy infrastructure. The Chronicle