PATNA, India (AP) — Lightning has killed 74 people, mostly farm laborers working in fields, across eastern and northern India over the past 24 hours, officials said Wednesday.
A majority of the deaths occurred in the eastern state of Bihar, where 57 people died after being struck by lightning, a state official said. At least 24 others were injured when thunderstorms and monsoon rains lashed 14 districts of the state.
Ten people were killed by lightning in neighboring Jharkhand state, six in northern Uttar Pradesh state, and another in Maharashtra, police said.
Bihar disaster management official Vyasji said scores of cattle also perished in the state after being struck by lightning.
The dead included at least eight shepherds watching their sheep, said Vyasji, who uses only one name. He told reporters that he expected the death toll to go up as reports come in from remote districts of the state.
Lightning strikes are common during India's monsoon season, which runs from June to September. However, the recent toll is unusually high.
At least 2,000 people have died in lightning strikes in India every year since 2005, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.