Lightning has killed more than 40 people across two Indian states over the past 24 hours, according to officials.
A majority of the deaths occurred in the western state of Rajasthan where at least 18 people, including seven children, died after being struck by lightning near a watchtower at the 12th century Amer fort, police said.
Senior police officer Anand Srivastava said some of the victims were taking selfies near the watchtower when lightning struck late on Sunday (local time).
A witness of the freak incident told Asian News International "people died in front of our eyes".
"If people had gotten help and authorities had reached [them] on time then [they would have been alive]," they said.
"We brought many people down. We rescued the people who were still alive, those who were still breathing and pulled some people out of the gorge."
Eleven of those killed were tourists visiting the Amer fort on the outskirts of the state capital Jaipur.
"As it started raining visitors took cover at a watchtower near the fort. Lightning struck the watchtower killing 11 people on the spot and injuring others," Jairam, a local police officer who identified himself by only one name, told Reuters.
At least 16 killed in lightning at Jaipur’s Amber Fort this evening. More than 35 people were at the fort’s watchtower to enjoy themselves during rain. This video is from a nearby rooftop. @jaipur_police say death toll may rise. #Jaipur #Lightning #Amber pic.twitter.com/W1IeKJwjUL
— TusharVijh (@TusharVijh) July 12, 2021
Most of those dead were local tourists, he added.
Jaipur Police said on Twitter it had launched a search operation for those injured or who may be unconscious as a result of the strike at Amer fort.
More killed in separate lightning strikes
Srivastava said at least nine more people were killed and nearly 20 others were injured in separate lightning strikes when the state was lashed with thunderstorms and monsoon rains.
In Uttar Pradesh, 18 people were killed by lightning on Sunday, Manoj Dixit, a government official, said.
Most of those killed were farm laborers working in fields.
Both state governments announced financial compensation for the families of the victims and those who were injured.
The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of more lightning in the next two days.
Lightning strikes are common during India’s monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
More than 2900 people were killed by lightning in India in 2019, according to the the most recent official figures available.
with Reuters and AP
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