Lightning strike kills 30 in Africa

Thirty people have been killed by lightning in African countries.

A lightning strike has killed 18 children and their teacher in Uganda, police said.

Uganda has one of the highest rates of lightning strike deaths in the world and its capital Kampala has more days of lightning per year than any other city, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The lightning hit the victims in a classroom at a school in Kiryandongo, 210 km (130 miles) north of Kampala, police said. Another 38 children were admitted to hospital.

The East African country has suffered a wave of fatal lightning strikes in recent weeks during unseasonably heavy rains.

The deaths were debated in parliament on Monday, with MPs calling on the government to come up with strategy to deal with what several termed "a crisis".

"I don't know which minister is in charge of the lightning but let the government come up with a statement to inform the country on what is going on and how we can manage it," Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said.

Local meteorologists have criticised the government for not providing enough lightning conductors for buildings in storm hotspots.

"The 19 were killed in single lightning strike on Monday," a police spokesman said. "They were ready to leave school but there was a heavy downpour and so they sheltered in the classroom and then, all of a sudden, it struck."

Police said 15 of the 38 injured on Monday were still in hospital being treated for burns. Local media quoted medical officials in Kiryandongo predicting the death toll could rise.

The state-owned New Vision newspaper said on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed by lightning strikes in recent weeks. The police did not give an official death toll.

Many of the strikes have killed children. Three siblings aged four, six and eight were killed while sheltering under a tree on their way home from school last week and another two children were killed the week before, police said.

11 killed in Nigeria 

Eleven people were killed by lightning in two communities in northern Nigeria during torrential rains, Red Cross and local officials said Wednesday.

Eight peasant farmers were killed and another 12 injured on Tuesday during a thunderstorm outside Balanga village in Gombe State, Nigerian Red Cross official Bala Ahmed told AFP.

"The farmers were working on their farms when it started to rain and they sought shelter under a tree which was then struck by lightning," Ahmed said.

In a separate incident in Damaturu, the state capital, three people were struck by lightning during a downpour in a timber market, the head of the market, Abbati Muhammad, told AFP.

Lightning "struck and three people who had come to buy firewood were caught in it and died on the spot", he said.

Lightning strikes occur in Nigeria during the rainy season which has just begun.

Last week, 24 people died in flooding in northern city of Kano following heavy rains.

Nigeria experienced severe flooding last year, which left scores dead and that affected around half a million people in two-thirds of its 36 states, according to the emergency agency, which has predicted unprecedented heavy rainfall and severe flooding this rainy season.

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