100 people killed by lightning annually - Molewa

2015-11-12 17:20
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Pretoria - At least 100 people are killed annually due to lightning strikes in South Africa.

That was according to Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, who says the number was "staggeringly high" compared to the rest of the world.

“Injuries and fatalities from lightning in South Africa are among the highest in the world with 100 people killed... every year. Loss of consciousness, amnesia, paralysis and severe burns are among the injuries reported by those lucky enough to survive,” she said.

Molewa was speaking at the 2015 conference on lightning and its impact on socioeconomic imperatives held in Pretoria on Thursday. She said globally lightning strikes resulted in death and injuries to livestock and other animals, forest and brush fires and the destruction of agricultural land. Molewa added the financial losses associated with lightning strikes were "humongous".

“In many parts of the world, including South Africa, financial losses incurred as a result of lightning strikes can run into millions of rands, as homeowners and business owners claim damages from insurance companies. The insurance division of one of South Africa’s and Africa’s largest banks reported in 2012 there has been... a 402% increase year-on-year in weather-related damage claims including from lightning,” Molewa said.

“Despite the high number of fatalities and injuries from lightning strikes, we know South Africa’s lightning research scientists are leaders in this field and will continue to collate data and produce cutting-edge research to further enable our understanding of lighting science, in particular in the medical study of lightning injuries and casualties - keraunomedicine.”

She said collating scientific data played an invaluable role not just in aiding the understanding of lightning and the proper treatment for strike victims, but also in assisting efforts to better inform and educate people on the hazards of lightning.

Read more on:    edna molewa  |  pretoria  |  weather

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