Lightning Kills 64 in Bangladesh
Surge in deaths is causing panic
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 14, 2016 8:50 AM CDT
Police say most of the victims were working in fields when they were struck.   (AP Photo/dpa, Florian Gaertner)

(Newser) – More than 60 people have been killed by lightning over the past two days during tropical storms across Bangladesh, local media said Saturday. Most of the 64 lightning deaths since Thursday have occurred in the countryside, where farmers are busy with the current harvesting season, Bengali-language newspapers Prothom Alo and Samakal reported, per the AP. Experts say increased deforestation, increased use of metal equipment like cellphones, and rising temperatures have contributed to a surge in lightning deaths that has caused panic in some areas.

Most of the victims were farmer working in their fields, though children playing in the open and spectators at a soccer game have also died in lightning strikes. Mohammad Riaz Ahmed, chief of Bangladesh's disaster management department, tells Voice of America that authorities are "very concerned" by the number of lightning deaths. More than 90 have died so far this year and the storm season hasn't peaked yet. In the US, there were 27 recorded lightning deaths in 2015 and there have been five so far this year, according to the NOAA. (NASA has named a new lightning capital of the world.)