A BIKITA woman and six family members were Monday killed by a bolt of lightning as the persistent rains witnessed in the past few days leave a trail of death and destruction countrywide, police have said.
National police spokesperson, Charity Charamba said the seven victims, most of them minors, were at their thatched homestead when a bolt of lightning “suddenly struck”, killing them instantly.
“Circumstances are that on 02 February 2015 at about 1630 hours, Marian Nebvuma, 32, was in her thatched bedroom hut whilst all the other deceased were in a thatched kitchen hut,” said Charamba.
“A bolt of lightning suddenly struck the bedroom and kitchen huts at Marian Nebvuma’s homestead.”
The police said all the occupants in the two huts died on the spot.
“The bodies of the deceased were ferried to Silveira Mission Mortuary awaiting burial,” added Charamba.
Police named the deceased as Marian Nebvuma, Fadzai Chenjerai, 11, Gloria Chenjerai, 5, Odrey Masunda, 4, Esther Muchakagara, 5, Claudia Mugwinyi, 4, and Crywind Mugwinyi, 6.
Lightning is a major killer in the country, especially in rural areas.
According to the metrological department, lightning strikes normally kill up to 100 people each year, mostly rural children. Many more people are maimed and countless livestock lost.
The department said fatalities might actually be under-reported by 20 to 30 percent and lightning injuries by more than 40 percent, as many deaths and injuries go unreported.
Zimbabwe is even cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the country where a single bolt of lightning claimed its largest number of victims. This occurred in a village near the eastern border town of Mutare in 1975 when 21 people were killed while sheltering in a hut.
The country’s abundant granite outcrops, according to scientist from the University of Zimbabwe, may be one of the reasons behind the country’s high lightning toll.
An additional explanation attributable to lightning is the effect deforestation especially with an increase in tobacco farming which has left many huts and standing individuals as the highest objects around and exposed to the calamity.
On the traditional front, it is claim that lightening is also caused by witchdoctors.