Cambodian govt issues warning for people to be on alert as wet season approaches; lightning storms likely to jump in 2024

Lightning strikes a tall building in Phnom Penh. The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) has warned that this year is likely to see an increase in lightning storms, and urged the public to take appropriate precautions. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN

PHNOM PENH (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): A single lightning bolt struck two farmers in a Siem Reap rice field on May 8, leaving one of the men dead, and the other seriously injured.

The 2024 forecast suggests that this year will see more lightning storms than last year, prompting the need for continued dissemination of measures people can take to reduce their risk, say the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

NCDM spokesman Soth Kimkolmony told The Post this week’s rains have brought thunder, lightning and strong winds with them. Four lightning strikes were recorded this week, killing people and animals and destroying homes.

“It appears that lightning storms are increasing year-on-year. Lightning strikes increased between 2022 and 2023. Based on the weather phenomena we are expecting this year, they are likely to jump again,” he said.

143 lightning strikes were recorded last year, killing 84 people and injuring 59 others, as well as causing the deaths of 107 animals. The NCDM registered 110 cases in 2022 that killed 63 people and injured 58, killing 90 animals.

The El Nino phenomenon brought increased heat waves in 2024 and when the rainy season comes there will be more lightning strikes. This requires us to make efforts to reduce their effects,” said Kimkolmony.

“Even though we could not eliminate them or prevent it from happening on a large scale, we can reduce the effects. We can install lightning protection systems in vulnerable areas, for example,” he added.

He explained that the government has installed some protection systems in Siem Reap, and hopes they will reduce the effects of lightning strikes.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, the Cambodian Red Cross, the NCDM and local authorities, as well as other institutions, have been sharing leaflets and offering advice on how people can protect themselves for years.

Therefore, most people should be well informed and have an understanding of what they can do to reduce their risks, he suggested.

He explained that lightning storms happen most often just before it rains, so they should exercise caution during these times.

“People should take precautions and not take shelter in places that are vulnerable to lightning strikes. More public awareness work will be carried out this season,” he said.

Liv Sokhon, spokesman for Siem Reap provincial hall and provincial department of information director, noted that the meteorology ministry issues weather forecasts every day, which are shared with the public by the provincial authorities.

“We share details about the weather conditions and include warnings of strong winds and lightning storms. We disseminate these by many means, including social media and through public events,” he said. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN

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