Lightning strike kills 22

Lightning has killed 22 people, mostly farm laborers working in fields, across the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, officials said Monday.

The fatalities occurred Sunday evening when thunderstorms and rain lashed eight districts in Andhra Pradesh, said N. Chandrababu Naidu, the state's chief minister.

Two women's cricket teams had a narrow escape when lightning struck a tree on the grounds where they were playing in Guntur town, said Sitapati, a district cricket official. "It was a miraculous escape for the players and the people at the grounds," said Sitapati, who goes by one name.

A tree caught fire after it was hit by a lightning bolt, and the deafening sound that followed led players and spectators to flee the grounds in panic, he said.

Lightning strikes are common during India's monsoon season, which runs from June to September. However, Sunday's toll was unusually high.

Weather officials in the Andhra Pradesh state capital of Hyderabad said a low pressure system over the Bay of Bengal led to heavy downpours.

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