LIGHTNING KILLS FOUR IN PNG HIGLANDS REGION

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Follows 6 killed by lightning in highlands last month

By Elias Lari and Wallace Kiala PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 22, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea, four people have been killed by lighting in two provinces in the Highlands region.

Two were killed in Simbu province yesterday, while two others were struck down in Southern Highlands province last Tuesday.

In Simbu, two people died while 48 others suffered severe after-shock when lightning struck the remote hilltop village of Dom Kagul in the Sinesine-Yongomugl district between 4pm and 5pm yesterday.

Reports reaching The National last night said there were thunderstorms and a lot of rain in the area.

[PIR editor’s note: Six people were killed by lightning in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands region last month. A woman was struck by lightning and killed in the highlands in 2007 ]

Villager Bernadine Kua, who was assisting those who were badly affected from the lightning, said it had been raining yesterday afternoon as people gathered under a big tree after church to take shelter under its canopy.

They were waiting for the rain to ease before going home when the lightning struck.

The two who died were both male and aged 24 and 35 respectively. They died instantly.

The others suffered shock and sharp burning pains all over their bodies and were helped to the nearby Kagul Lutheran mission open house where women and other relatives tried to help.

"Mi pela no save wonem samting long mekim lo halivim ol man meri pilim pen. Ol slip tasol na singaut na tok mipela noken touchim ol em olsem paia kukim ol.

"Em niupela samthing long mipela. (We do not know how to help those who were in severe pain. They cried out saying they felt like they were burning and told us not to touch them. What happened is something new to us)," Mrs. Kua said.

She said their breathing was fine but their eyes were wide open, as if in shock.

As she was speaking to The National, six people were transferred to the Koge Rural Health Centre in a vehicle for treatment. The vehicle belonging to the local health extension officer can only take six at a time across very bad road conditions.

They hope to transport the rest today.

Dom Kagul village has around 3,700 people, all belonging to a big tribe, and makes up three council wards.

Meanwhile, a 25-year-old trainee teacher and a 13-year-old boy were also struck by lightning last week at home at Muli village in Ialibu, Southern Highlands province.

The female trainee, a second-year student at the Madang Teacher’s College, and the Grade 6 St Mary School student were killed instantly.

They were both in their home preparing dinner when they were electrocuted by lightning at 4pm last Tuesday.

Deputy council president from Kaiwabe Local Level Government (LLG), Anthon Andia, revealed this yesterday in Mt Hagen.

He told The National that the immediate family members of the two victims were shocked when they learnt of the tragedy.

Mr. Andia said they could not blame anyone for the death because it was a natural phenomenon.

"Many people are affected by lightening these days on the highlands where many lives are being lost.

"It is important that people take extra precaution when lightening strikes," he said.

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