Weather experts are warning citizens to take extra
precautions during this rainy season, with a high number of deaths reported
from lightning strikes in the city and the countryside.
Long Saravuth, director of the department of meteorology of
the Ministry of Water Resources, said Monday the ministry has distributed an
information booklet to help people in rural areas protect themselves from
At least two people died in Phnom Penh this week when they were hit by
lightning, police said.
"We cannot prevent lightning strikes, but we can
protect ourselves from them," Long Saravuth said.
By June, 35 people were killed by lightning, according to
Disaster Management Committee figures, with much of the rainy season remaining.
Last year, a total of 40 people died from lightning for the whole year.
lightning strikes happen most in the provinces around the Tonle
Sap lake, where conditions create turbulent cumulonimbus clouds,
making lightning more common, Long Saravuth said.
In the city, lightning rods are used to protect people, he
said, but these are not installed in the countryside.
In rural areas, when people walk in the open, they are the
highest point around them and attract to lightning.
In the city, residents should ensure they have their houses
properly wired and lightning rods installed. In the countryside, people should
avoid working in fields during lightning storms. They should also avoid taking
shelter directly under tall trees.
During a storm, people should remain at least 4 meters from
tall trees, and they should avoid holding metal instruments, such as shovels or
The ministry plans to install lightning absorbing equipment
around the Tonle Sap lake, which can help alleviate lightning and protect
people in a 40-kilometer perimeter, but funds are not available to do so.
Nhim Vanda, vice president of the Disaster Management
Committee, said it was difficult to prevent lightning in rural areas, because
it can happen anywhere with no advance warning.
For Bor Savy, official warnings come too late. Her brother,
Bor Thum, died this year in Kampong Cham province when he was hit by lightning
as he dug in a canal during a storm.
Now, her family takes precautions by turning off the
television and telephones during a storm.