Siem Reap Man Becomes 102nd Lightning Fatality in 2013
By and | November 15, 2013

Lightning struck and killed a 54-year-old farmer in Siem Reap province’s Puok district on Wednesday, making him the 102nd person to be killed by lightning this year, officials said Thursday.

“The man died after being hit by lightning while he was harvesting rice in a storm. He died immediately,” said Keo Vy, cabinet chief of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

Last year, a total of 103 people were killed by lightning, with most deaths occurring in the open countryside as people working in the fields far from shelter are left particularly vulnerable, he said.

“Mostly it happens in remote areas; 80 to 90 of the people who died this year were living in remote areas,” Mr. Vy said.

Despite warning citizens ahead of large storms and asking them to be cautious, not much can be done to prevent the deaths, he added.

“People cannot prevent such disasters from happening,” Mr. Vy said.

Ronald Holle, a meteorologist specializing in lightning and its effects in developing countries for Finnish company Vaisal, which develops instruments for environmental and industrial measurement, said that most people in rural areas lacked any protection from lightning.

“There are only two reliably safe places to be safe from lightning,” Mr. Holle said in an email: either a large house with wiring, plumbing and metal components, or a fully enclosed metal vehicle.

“If neither of these two locations are available, then a person has no reliable place to be safe from lightning,” Mr. Holle said.

“In Cambodia and many other countries, people live and work inside lightning-unsafe buildings, and many work outside in agricultural activities that are fully vulnerable to lightning,” which explains the high number of deaths, he said.

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