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Call for safety precautions as lightning strike claims family of three

As the rainy season sets in, entities charged with safety have called on the public to be conscious of lightning and also re-echoed extra safety precautions.

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Assistant Commissioner Of Police (ACP) Theos Badege

So far, spiky lightning have been experienced in different parts of the country; police have since recorded a number of human and livestock deaths due to lightning.

In the last two weeks only, lightning has claimed 18 people in different parts of the country.

Recent among those was in Nyabihu District, Rurembo Sector, Gitega Cell, where lighting struck and killed a mother and her two children at their home cases include on October 10.

The victims were identified as Albertine Nyiransengimana 28 and her two children James Uwihirwe 06, and Obed Habineza 02.

Another incident happened a day before in Nyarubuye Sector of Kirehe District, where at least four people were pronounced dead due to a lightning strike.

On that same day, similar incidents occurred Karongi District where lightning struck two children and died on spot.

Other lightning strikes leading to death were reported in Gatsibo, Nyamagabe , Ngororero,Gakenke and Nyamasheke districts.

According to Phillip Habinshuti, the director for Response and Recovery in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDMAR), Lightning is caused by an electrical discharge of electrons moving very quickly from one place to another.

These electrons move so quickly that they superheat the air around them causing it to glow while thunderstorms are created by strong rising air currents called updrafts forming Cumulonimbus clouds.

These updrafts create winds of 50 mph (or more) rising several miles into the air to form Cumulonimbus clouds. Warm updrafts and cooler weaker downdrafts create turbulence.

The US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a study last year that revealed of high risk of thunderbolts in Rwanda.

Modalities set up by government of preventing disaster caused by thunderstorms, rain and windstorms, direct that all buildings “shall have lightning rod.

“People should avoid touching and taking equipment reserved for electricity transmission, such as an umbrella with a pointed metal on top in the event that such equipment are on a higher level than the height of the person carrying them,” said Habinshuti.

According to preliminary assessments by report compiled by MIDMAR all incidents reported have consistent conditions of occurrence.

“What is uniform about the victims of lightning is that they are struck while riding bicycles, standing under trees while raining, grazing on or farming on steep slopes, and swimming during rain, among others” said Habinshuti.

Rwanda National Police (RNP) Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Of Police (ACP) Theos Badege, said that incidents of lightning leading to death can be avoided if expert advices are heeded to.

“Anything that affects people’s safety if of concern to us as an institution charged with public safety. A single live lost in such avoidable circumstances is regrettable. People should heed to preventive measure when faced with such situations,” said ACP Badege.

He appealed to the public to implement all safety procedures given by authorities such as fitting lightning arrestors to stop or minimize accidents

“Property owners must ensure lightning arresters are fitted in all critical facilities and public building such as places of worship and schools,” he said.

Jimirasire

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